ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — If you’re thinking about picking up your keys after a few drinks Friday night, you have options to not get behind the wheel. For a second time this year, free Uber rides have returned to downtown Albany.

“It’s a unique partnership and we want to make sure people take advantage of it,” says Dominick Purnomo, owner of Yonos and dp An American Brasserie in Albany, “we had great success with this over Thanksgiving and it gave people an opportunity again to celebrate, support small business and do it safely.” 

The program, presented by DeCrescente Distributing Company and the Downtown Albany Business Improvement District, provides a free up to $50 Uber voucher for a ride from a downtown business. “The bars and restaurants will have posters hanging up and there is a QR code that you scan from that poster and then you will have your credit for the Uber ride,” says Georgette Steffens, executive director of the Downtown Albany BID.

Holidays in Downtown Albany is a continuation of the “Downtown Thanks You”, a safe ride program which ran during Thanksgiving week. “We had about 90 individuals take advantage of that program so we knew it was a success and we wanted to make sure we brought it back for the holidays,” Steffens says.

With New York State breaking its single day COVID case record for two days in a row Thursday, businesses in downtown are hoping people still come out to ring in the New Year, Purnomo says. “With the two shows at the Palace and the Times Union Center both canceling earlier in the week, a lot of restaurants, ourselves included, lost a lot of reservations. Some as many as 50%. We’ve gotten some of that business back and we’re excited to still have a full restaurant tonight.” 

If you do take advantage of the free Uber ride tonight, here are a few tips to stay safe:

1. Request your ride inside

Minimize the time that you’re standing outside by yourself with your phone in your hand. Instead, wait inside until the app shows that your driver has arrived.

2. Check Your Ride

Every time you take a trip with Uber, please make sure you’re getting into the right car with the right driver by matching the license plate, car make and model, and driver photo with what’s provided in your app. Uber trips can only be requested through the app, so never get in a car where the vehicle or driver identity doesn’t match what’s displayed in your app.

3. Have the driver confirm your name

In addition to the Check Your Ride safety steps, you can also ask the driver to confirm your name before you get in the car. Your driver sees your first name in their app, and your driver’s first name is displayed to you in your app. To safely exchange names, you can ask, “Who are you here to pick up?” The driver may also ask you to confirm their name for their own peace of mind.

4. Be a back-seat rider

Whenever possible, sit in the back seat, especially if you’re riding alone. This helps ensure that you can safely exit on either side of the vehicle to avoid moving traffic, and it gives you and your driver some personal space.

5. Always wear your seat belt 

Seat belt use is the most effective way to save lives and reduce injuries related to car crashes, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

6. Share your trip details with loved ones

While en route, tap Share trip status in the app to share your driver’s name, photo, license plate, and location with a friend or family member. They will receive a text or push notification that tracks your trip and ETA.

7. Protect your personal information

Our technology anonymizes your phone number when you call or message your driver through the app* and also masks your pickup and dropoff addresses in a driver’s trip history. In select areas, the Driver app will only show the general area where a trip started and ended.

8. Follow your intuition

Trust your instincts and use your best judgment when requesting a ride with Uber. If you ever feel that you’re in an urgent situation, you can call 911 by using the Emergency Button located in your app. Anytime you call emergency services from the Uber app, the app provides you with your real-time location and trip details that you can share with the dispatcher.

And remember, if you feel unsafe you can end the ride at any time.

9. Be kind and respectful

As outlined in Uber’s Community Guidelines, please respect fellow passengers and your driver and their car.

10. Give feedback about your trip

After each trip, you’re asked in the app to rate your trip. Your feedback helps keep Uber safe and enjoyable for everyone. If you ever experience a safety issue on a trip, please report it to Uber. Our 24/7 response team will follow up.

And remember, on every trip you can tap the shield icon in the app to access Uber’s Safety Toolkit and get help whenever you need it.