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Expert offers safety tips for Lyft and Uber riders

Abduction and murder of South Carolina college student raises safety concerns

MINNEAPOLIS — The abduction and murder of University of South Carolina student Samantha Josephson was top of mind Monday in the ride-share line at MSP International Airport.

“It's definitely a concern,” Kattelyne Wolffe, a banker, traveling on business, said.

Wolffe’s co-worker, Morgan Hargis, has one rule she always follows. “I only use Uber if I'm in a group,” Hargis said. “I wouldn't go by myself.”

That’s one precaution.  Lauren Fix, an automotive expert known as “The Car Coach” offers others.

“Number one, don't be on your phone,” Fix said. “Have the phone app open so you have the license plate to match.”

Fix says ride-share passengers should also ask the driver who he came to pick up.

“Don’t tell them your name. ‘Who are you waiting for?’  If they can't answer the question, do not under any circumstances, get in that car,” Fix said.

Fix said it’s important for passengers to trust their intuition.  If something doesn’t feel right, she suggests asking the driver to drop you off at a gas station or some other safe place. 

If the driver fails to comply, Fix says to be ready for a red light to get out of the vehicle.

Fix notes that the driver who abducted Samantha Josephson had his vehicle’s child safety locks engaged, meaning the rear doors would not open from the inside.

Child safety locks can be checked.  The switch is usually found on the lower side of one of the rear passenger doors, only visible when the door is open.

Morgan Hargis kept her eyes trained on her Uber app until her driver pulled up.

“We are looking for a 2016 silver sedan,” she said. “And we have a license plate as well, that we'll check.”

For Hargis, everything checked out. In fact, the driver greeted her by name.

The perfect welcome to Minnesota.