College students ask for panic buttons in ride-sharing apps, UNC Charlotte already offers similar tool

Difficulty telling rideshares from strangers

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Students at UNC Charlotte say ride sharing apps like Uber and Lyft are convenient and easy to use.

But as one student says, "There’s always the odd-ball thing, kind of with whatever you do, you’re taking a risk.”

“Typically I’ll use it with a group of friends because that way it’s safer and it’s not as easy to steal a group of friends as it is just one person,” said another student we asked.

With ride-sharing apps, you can request a driver to pick you up and on the screen the identity of the driver, their contact information, make and model of the car picking you up, among other information is displayed on screen.

“They usually tell you what kind of car is coming, or what your driver looks like with a picture of the driver who is picking you up and with a lot of them, you can see the Uber sticker or the Lyft sticker,” explained one student.

But students pointed out a possibility: “The stickers that they put on the car, I don’t know, maybe those might be easy to replicate," says one student.

Students say sometimes, especially at night, spotting the difference between your ride and just an average driver in a car can be difficult and dangerous…which police say is what happened this past weekend to a University of South Carolina student when she mistook a car for her Uber. But UNCC campus police are reminding students to use the LiveSafe app.

“Basically what the LiveSafe app does is it gives you the options, easiest way is if you want to make contact with THE police department you hit emergency options,” Sgt. Jerry Lecomte with UNCC patrol.

UNC Charlotte students can pull up the LiveSafe app anywhere (walking to class, riding in a car, etc.) and have access to an immediate panic button and police.

“It gives you an option to call campus police or text message police,” says Lecomte.

Students say panic buttons and security cameras are something they’d like to see added directly to ride-sharing apps.

“I think there’s always room for improvement and making it safer but I think by adding cameras inside the cars that would make for a little more accountability,” offered another student.

We reached out to Uber asking them if there’s any plans to change their driver’s outer car appearance for more visible branding, they didn’t answer that question directly, but said that the Uber app will soon include a new emergency button that will connect you directly with 911. We also reached out to Lyft and are waiting for a response.

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