Remember the old days when we had to wait by the roadside in a queue to take a bus or hire a CNG auto rickshaw, especially during peak hours? 

If you have been following the rise of app based ridesharing, you would have noticed that e-hailing platforms have made core structural changes to the transportation industry through disruptive technological innovations. You no longer need to physically wave at a passing auto or call a local cab for a ride. You can now book a car or bike by pressing a button in an app in your smartphone, and the nearest cab will be dispatched for you. Neat, right?

Ridesharing has also brought about a sense of safety in both riders and drivers which was previously lacking in cab services and other public transportation modes. Let’s look at Uber, for example. As a rider, Uber’s priority is to get you efficiently and safely to your destination. Background checks and workshops for drivers, a robust set of Community Guidelines, emergency button integration, rider and driver insurance, sharing your live GPS location, and a 24/7 safety response team to respond to any incident that is reported, are just some of the many measures Uber takes to ensure safety never stops. Additionally, drivers and riders know that all rides are GPS tracked, and that details such as license plate number, driver’s picture and rider and driver names are shared upfront on the app, thereby, creating more accountability.

If we had to categorize the benefits of riding with Uber and how it enables a smooth and safe user experience, it would be:

Security: Uber helps track every car as well as every driver in real time.

Routing: GPS based system and Google Maps integration in both the driver and rider apps ensures optimal routes.

Certainty: It transforms the often unstructured execution of street hailing/ public transport into an organized and pleasant experience for the rider.

Street hailing, in sharp contrast, has no accountability or safety support for either riders or drivers. Trips taken off-line and not on Uber’s platform are not GPS tracked, and, therefore, cannot be tracked. This can prove to be a deadly disadvantage should any untoward incident occur. Riders and drivers in an offline trip don’t have access to any safety features hosted in the Uber app or access to the safety support team of Uber. Furthermore, riders will not have visibility to the driver’s identity (name, picture, rating, etc.) at the time of booking. Should the rider feel the need to report the trip to the police, they wouldn’t have access to basic information like the driver’s name and his picture.

Due to the absolute lack of accountability in street hails, both riders and drivers can also take advantage of each other and choose to hike up the prices after the trip starts, or refuse to pay the fare post trip. Again, without the correct information from records, it is difficult to trace drivers or riders when complaints are received. 

Perhaps the biggest disadvantage of street-hails, and why it must be actively discouraged, is the lack of any insurance coverage for either drivers or riders, should they find themselves in the midst of an unfortunate situation. Uber provides both riders and drivers free insurance coverage for accidental death, permanent disability and hospitalisation, in case of an accident while on an Uber trip. 

Street hailing may seem like an easy option, but it’s not worth it. The benefits of booking trips on-platform cannot be overstated. By using a rideshare app like Uber, you can book a cab with just a few taps on your phone, have the car and driver details at your fingertips even before the trip begins, track the journey via GPS, get on board with the assurance of a gamut of safety features available to you on your app, and hop out once the destination is reached. 

So the next time you need to book a cab, ask yourself this: how important is safety for you and your loved ones?