Rideshare group talks safety during vigil for 79-year-old Lyft driver

Rideshare drivers look for more protection after shooting

CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. (WWBT) - During a vigil for 79-year-old Lyft driver Franklin Farrens, who was killed last month in Chesterfield, a small group of ride-share drivers gathered in the 1100 block of Courthouse Road to pay their respects. Though many of the drivers who showed up didn’t know Farrens personally, the administrator for the ride-share group ‘RVA Rideshare Partner,’ John Pedrick wanted the community to get together to discuss safety.

“It’s always in the back of my head that what if, what if, what if?” said Pedrick reflecting on the Farrens murder. “My ride-share community has a big concern.”

“We are put in this situation almost on a daily basis,” said 4-year-Lyft Veteran Michael Serrano. “We don’t know if the passenger is going to be in a good mood or a bad mood or rob us or not. That sense of doubt is always looming in the back of our minds.”

During the vigil, Pedrick advised all Lyft and Uber drivers to invest in dash-cams or other forms of surveillance video to serve as a deterrent for passengers who may cause trouble.

“Your biggest valuable asset as a driver is your voice, your voice and your eyes,” said Pedrick. “I have a camera in my car, I have a rearview monitor in my car, I pay attention to those things and I always watch them.”

Pedrick says he wants his group to work more closely with police to find more ways drivers can vet their passengers before letting them in and be more vigilant when behind the wheel.

“I’ve talked to Richmond Police Department, I’m trying to get them set up to do interviews where they can show us as drivers what suspicious activity looks like,” said Pedrick.

Pedrick says he also utilizes two-way communication apps that allow drivers to communicate with one another if they find themselves in a questionable situation. Pedrick says some apps even allow drivers to pinpoint their location and leave messages to their colleagues to locate them with greater ease.

Farrens was found dead in his car on Providence Creek Road on January 28.

According to police, Bernard Smith, 18, who was one of Farren’s passengers that day, and has been charged in his death.

Smith was arrested and is now facing charges of second-degree murder and use of a firearm in the commission of a felony.

Chesterfield Police say Smith lived on the same block of Providence Creek Road where Farrens crashed.

Pedrick says his group is also calling for support from ride-share companies to provide more ways for drivers to protect themselves in dangerous situations.

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