On April 19th, Chariot for Women will launch. The service is run by women, caters only to females and children, and donates a portion of all rides to charity.
While Uber may be affordable and convenient, one thing it’s not is female-friendly. In fact, when BuzzFeed News got a hold of some leaked screenshots from Uber’s internal customer support interface, the words “rape” and “sexual assault” appeared more than 10,000 times in the “Subject” field of the search query. Combined with anecdotal horror stories of Uber rides gone wrong, it’s understandable why women are wary of catching a ride with a complete stranger.
With 1 in 4 women expected to be a victim of sexual assault in their lifetime, safe alternatives need to be available for females to travel in comfort and at peace of mind. Luckily, one does exist, and it was created by a former Boston-based driver.
Michael Pelletz is very aware of just how risky ride-sharing can be for passengers and drivers. One evening, when he was giving a belligerent male passenger a ride home, he had to flag a cop on the side of the road because the encounter became so unbearable. Reflecting on the incident, he realized that both female drivers and passengers are at a high risk of being attacked in ride-share environments.
For this reason, he founded a unique ride-share service that is female-run, fully female-staffed and is exclusively for women and children. It’s called Chariot for Women, and it launches on April 19th.
All drivers for the service must be women and must be thoroughly background checked before being allowed to take passenger requests. In addition, the security protocols for rider and driver verification are quite rigorous.
When a driver starts her shift, she must answer a random security question that changes daily to verify her identity. When a ride is requested, a “safe word” appears on both the driver and the customer’s phones. If the driver gives the passenger the correct word the ride can begin. If not, the woman hailing a ride will know not to get into the car.
That’s not all: riders will see a photo of the driver along with the make, model, and license plate number of the car being driven. All these safety measures exist to ensure both the driver’s and the passenger’s safety.
Another amazing aspect of the new ride share service is that Michael’s wife, Kelly, runs it, even though he conceived the idea.
Mrs. Pelletz, a former nurse, is president of Chariot for Women and came up with the plan to divert 2% of all ride profits to local and national charities that benefit women. Each time a passenger gets into an approved car, an app pops up that allows them to choose from 10 charities that rotate each month. The money then goes straight to them.
Of course, Chariot will have some fierce competition as a number of ride-share services have popped up in the last few years. However, the innovative concept will have an edge as no other enterprise solely focuses on the safety of women.
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