Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Advertise in our classifieds section
Your classified listing could be here!
October 4, 2022

Safety brings concern for newly designed app


Photo courtesy of Heyride!

A UT alumnus has created an app that intends to take the stress out of finding a ride around the ever-growing Austin area. Still in its beta phase, Heyride! allows people signed up as riders to mark their present location and designate where they want to go. Other users signed up as drivers then make bids to the rider for how much money they think the ride is worth. Riders select the driver they want and are picked up and taken wherever they need to go.

“Austin is the perfect place to do this,” CEO of Heyride! Josh Huck said.

Huck, who graduated from UT in 2009, said that the sense of community that inherently exists in Austin could be a big factor in the success of this new app.  He came up with the idea in March during SXSW.

“I saw a normal-looking guy in a Volvo. I remember looking at that guy, and I thought, ‘If I could give him five bucks to get me to my office, that would be awesome,’” Huck said.

Although this new app comes with many potential safety concerns, Huck was quick to nullify any doubts.

“Safety is a top priority, as is privacy,” Huck said.

True to those words, Heyride! has a number of safety features. Drivers cannot see the exact location of the potential rider until the rider agrees to be picked up. No cash money is ever exchanged between rider and driver. Transactions are done automatically with a credit card number through the app. Neither the rider nor the driver are ever given each other’s phone number, as all phone calls are made through the app.

Additionally, driver and rider integrity is crucial to safety, so numerous features are dedicated to letting drivers and riders know just whom they are riding with. On top of a five-star rating system, drivers and riders can give each other reviews. One interesting feature is the “Social Driver” screening process. When a driver first signs up on the app, they login with their Facebook account. Until they have successfully given a set number of rides and achieved a high enough rating, they can only give rides to their Facebook friends or friends of their Facebook friends. If this isn’t a viable option, drivers can purchase a background check. Once they clear either of those, they are free to cater to the greater Austin area. The incentive is to have a large clientele so making money is easier.

“I wouldn’t do it,” said Officer Layne Brewster, a crime prevention specialist with UTPD. But she offered solid advice for those who want to give it a shot, anyway.

“Take a picture of the license plate before you get in the car, and send it to a friend. That way there is a record of when you got in the car, as well as the make and model of the car.” She also suggested taking a picture of the driver’s face and sending it to a friend, as well as sitting in the back seat if possible.

Brewster also brought up valid arguments about overlooked safety issues.

“Where is the protection for the driver?” Brewster asked. “If a [rider] is intoxicated, is the driver responsible?”

Despite potential worries, some students showed interest in the app. Studio art sophomore Jannice Truong said she might participate, remarking that she spends a lot time waiting for the bus and pedicabs, which can charge a hefty price.

“I wouldn’t do it by myself,” she said.

Mechanical engineering junior Habeeb Mudeer said he wouldn’t mind giving rides if payment was involved.

“[It] depends on if they were a college student,” he said.

HeyRide! is looking for more drivers while in its beta stage. Huck said the app will be available in Apple’s app store within the next month. He said that he hopes to see Heyride! make its way to the Android platform soon, as well as making the app more versatile in the future. This would include the option to plan long trips and create designated planned pick-up times.

Printed on Wednesday, September 26, 2012 as: Heyride! app offers Austin iPhone owners new way to travel

More to Discover
Activate Search
Safety brings concern for newly designed app