By Danika Ferguson
Commuters ‘hitching’ a ride to combat congestion on our roads have been warned of stranger danger when sharing vehicles.
Online systems now allow commuters to connect with others embarking on a similar journey, making it easier than ever to share a lift.
But Queensland Police Superintendent Andy Morrow says the online systems can pose a serious risk.
“Arranging lifts, sort of hitchhiking, via the internet is of course fraught with danger,” he says.
“People have no idea who they’re really getting into a vehicle with.”
Torsten Herbst, creator of ride sharing website Coseats, says the concept is simple and efficient.
“Anyone who’s going from A to B can submit their ride on our website or through their smart phone,” he says.
However, mobile numbers are required to register a lift so commuters cannot be anonymous.
“Security is something that we focus strongly on,” Mr Herbst says.
“We’re using technology and social media so that we can make sure people aren’t anonymous.”
The RACQ‘s Brody Bott says they support initiatives to reduce congestion on our roads, but recommend people travel with friends.
“If you’re going to meet someone online, you need to treat it like internet dating,” he says.
“They are a complete stranger – you don’t know their driving habits or the way they drive.”
Superintendent Morrow questions whether the risks and benefits weigh up.
“Effectively the owner of the vehicle has all the advantages – they’re driving the car, they’re aware of how to lock the vehicle [and] they can have any sort of weapon secreted in the vehicle,” he says.
“Does the potential advantage of the small reduction in vehicular traffic weigh up against the risk that people are putting themselves at by getting into cars of people who they don’t know?”