Are Ride-Sharing Services Safe for Seniors to Use?

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Why Are Ride-Sharing Services Safe for Seniors to Use in Portland, ME

Ride-sharing services such as Uber and Lyft are well suited to seniors for many reasons. However, you’re likely wary of this transportation option because of reported passenger abuse and sexual assault by drivers. Here are some of the pros of ride-sharing and how to ensure your aging loved one’s safety.

Uber vs. Lyft

Presently, the two largest ride-sharing providers are Uber and Lyft. Uber is more prevalent, operating in 633 cities globally. Lyft is available in the U.S. and Canada. Both companies attempt to make rides available 24/7. With Uber, in most cities, you can schedule rides up to 30 days in advance. Using Lyft, you can arrange for rides up to a week in advance. If your loved one has a disability that impacts travel and both providers operate in your area, consider opting for Uber. Its accessible services are much more extensive than Lyft’s. With both companies, rides are requested through their free apps. If your loved one owns a smartphone, you can easily install the app and assist with setting up an account. This process involves registering with an email address, password, location, and payment method.

Ride-Sharing Advantages

Rides on Demand:

Once registered, your loved one can obtain rides “on demand,” meaning on short notice. When your loved one schedules a trip, the app calculates the fare beforehand. Similar to taxi service, fares are based on projected travel distance and the time involved. Since fares and tips are paid through the app, there’s no need to carry cash, making travel safer in this regard. 

To summon a ride, your loved one uses the app to input the pickup location and destination, then he or she receives a text message stating the wait time. When the car arrives, another text is sent with the driver’s name and picture, car type, and ride cost. When your loved one reaches the destination, the app processes the fare payment. If he or she shared the ride with another passenger, the fare is split. Your loved one then rates the driver from one to five regarding courtesy, safe navigation, and car cleanliness. The driver also rates passengers concerning their politeness. 

With Uber, you can easily track a passenger throughout the trip. When your loved one designates you as a contact person, you receive a link to ride particulars, including the driver’s name and photo, vehicle, travel route, and estimated time of arrival.


Once your loved one requests a car, the app contacts drivers in the vicinity, minimizing wait time. On average, passengers wait just 3 to 10 minutes for vehicles to arrive. Such promptness streamlines travel, which is especially helpful for doctor appointments and other occasions when timely transit is important. In some cities, Uber partners with certain retirement communities and senior centers to transport their members. This service, called Uber Central, enables seniors to request and pay for rides without having to create an Uber account. 

If your loved one isn’t comfortable using a mobile device, you can summon rides with the app installed on your phone. To reserve a car, you first specify the trip is for a family member. Next, select your loved one’s name from your address book, state the destination, and request a car. Ride-sharing outshines paratransit because you don’t have to schedule trips days in advance. Plus, paratransit can be frustrating when vans don’t arrive on time. With ride-sharing being door-to-door, it beats public transportation.

Another great option for families is to hire a professional caregiver. Whether you need respite from your caregiving duties or your aging loved one needs 24-hour care, Portland, ME, Align Home Care can meet your family’s care needs. Our dedicated caregivers are available around the clock to provide transportation to doctor’s appointments, ensure seniors take their prescribed medications, and help with a variety of tasks in and outside the home.



Currently in the U.S., approximately 40 percent of Uber passengers are seniors. Here are the services offered to disabled riders, tailored to the nature of disability.

Vision Impairment

With the Uber app, blind passengers have three means of requesting rides, depending on their mobile devices: wireless braille, Android TalkBack, or VoiceOver iOS. Service animals are always welcome to ride with their owners.

Hearing Impairment

Using the app, deaf and hearing-impaired customers can easily communicate with drivers. Incoming messages are signaled by flashing lights and vibrating alerts.

Reduced Mobility

To accommodate disabled riders, Uber has created a specific app called UberACCESS. Currently, this app is available in 40 large cities around the globe. UberACCESS incorporates two services:

  • Uber Assist — This option connects disabled customers to drivers with special training in helping disabled passengers. Drivers are skilled in the safe transfer and positioning of riders who use assistive devices such as canes, walkers, and folding wheelchairs.
  • UberWAV — This feature links users of non-folding wheelchairs with accessible cars equipped with lifts or ramps.


Wheelchair Users

Accessible Vehicle Dispatch (AVD) is Lyft’s service for wheelchair users, available through the Access mode on the Lyft app. Through the AVD program, Lyft partners with local taxis and paratransit operators who own accessible vehicles. In cities where AVD isn’t offered, passengers receive text messages directing them to alternate providers. For passengers with folding wheelchairs, Lyft drivers fit them in their car trunks or back seats, provided the equipment doesn’t obstruct road views.

For your loved one’s long-term needs—including safe, reliable transportation—consider hiring a professional caregiver. If your senior loved one has been diagnosed with a serious condition and needs help with tasks like meal prep, transportation, bathing, and grooming, reach out to Align Home Care, a leading provider of home care service families can trust. We also offer comprehensive care for seniors with dementia, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s.



Uber’s fleet includes a wide range of vehicle types. All are newer models, including sedans, SUVs, luxury SUVs, minivans, town cars, high-end cars, premium black cars, taxis, and accessible vehicles. Chauffeurs or professional drivers operate the high-end and premium black cars. Uber drivers can use either their personal vehicles or those from the company fleet. Either way, drivers keep the cars clean and well maintained. Since passengers rate Uber drivers on customer service, they have an incentive to excel. In fact, to stay employed, drivers must consistently receive top scores.


Like Uber, Lyft uses newer-model cars, although the selection is more limited. The Lyft fleet includes sedans, SUVs, luxury SUVs, high-end vehicles, and premium black cars. Lyft drivers are also motivated to provide excellent customer service, since they’re rated by passengers.

Safety Concerns

In 2018, CNN concluded an investigation of passenger abuse and sexual assault by Uber and Lyft drivers. Over the previous four years, accusations were made against 18 Lyft and 103 Uber drivers for such offenses. To safeguard passengers, both companies only hire drivers who pass criminal background checks. Additionally, in November 2018, Uber joined forces with the National Sexual Violence Resource Center to expose and report cases of misconduct. With such transparency, Uber aims to reduce the risk of sexual abuse. 

Your loved one should carry a cell phone so he or she can advise you and one other person of the trip details. Additionally, if your loved one uses Uber, click on the link sent to the contact person identifying the driver, car, route, and estimated time of arrival. Your loved one should choose public locations for pickups and drop-offs and, when possible, wait for the car inside a building. Tell your loved one to trust his or her instincts about entering a car. If your loved one feels wary, he or she should decline the ride and request another.

A trusted professional caregiver can provide your loved one with safe transportation and much more. Portland at-home care experts are available to provide high-quality care to seniors on an as-needed basis. From assistance with mobility and exercise to providing transportation to the doctor’s office and social events, there are a variety of ways professional caregivers can help your aging loved one continue to live independently. Align Home Care will work with you to customize a care plan that’s just right for your loved one’s needs. Call us today at (207) 835-3490 to discuss how we can give you the peace of mind that comes from knowing your loved one is being cared for with professionalism and compassion.


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