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Lyft Beefing Up Security For Drivers Amid Spike In Carjackings, Other Safety Concerns

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Lyft announced Wednesday that it is beefing up security after a recent rise in carjackings targeting rideshare drivers.

A new feature will require an extra layer of account verification from riders who use anonymous payment methods such as prepaid cards, gift cards, Venmo, or PayPal. It will be in effect in Chicago and elsewhere. Such payment methods are often used fraudulently, Lyft noted.

Drivers also have access to an emergency help system supported by ADT if they feel unsafe or uncomfortable. ADT can alert authorities to arrive at a driver's location, and will be equipped with ride details.

Lyft has also set up a Smart Trip Check-In, in which drivers will be notified if something seems off about a ride. These include rides that end from their intended destination, are canceled after pickup, or go off-route or stop for an abnormal period of time.

The Lyft app also provides real-time tracking so drivers can share their location and route with family and friends.

Lyft also works with Chicago Police to address safety concerns.

Carjackings in particular have left rideshare drivers alarmed in Chicago in recent months. They have been spiking dramatically in 2021 compared with the average for the past five years.

Chicago Police do not separate how many of the carjacking victims were rideshare drivers. But the gig workers believe they make up a large percentage of victims.

One driver, Javier Ramos, who was killed last month by an Uber passenger in the Lawndale neighborhood.

Another, father of three Joe Schelstraete, was shot in the head in Cicero last week and later died.

Uber recently made it mandatory for new accounts using anonymous forms of payment to upload an ID. The Gig Workers Alliance wants all riders to upload pictures just as drivers themselves do.

The rideshare companies consider drivers contract workers and not employees – and that makes their demand for safety and a better wage an uphill battle. The gig workers are hoping to get lawmakers involved to convince or mandate the companies listen to their demands.

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