It was after a full day of work and a stressful phone conversation that I pulled over to drop off one of the Pool riders. She was a sweet lady that seemed to be appreciative of my efforts to work part-time for additional income. Some riders are naturally curious about what made someone become Lyft or Uber partners. I try to give them the short story: I launched a side business last year, and I need additional income until it grows a little bit more. The lady seemed interested in what I was saying and even supportive. The ride was pleasant and everyone was happy about it. A win-win situation, right?
As the lady got off, she got distracted while looking at her phone. A lot of people seem to pay more attention to their phone than to their surroundings nowadays. She left the back door open. I assumed that she was out of the car AND safely distanced from the vehicle. My foot was on the brake pedal, and the transmission was in drive. I slowly released the brake pedal and moved away for a couple of inches until I realized that the door was still open. Yes, you’re right, inexcusable. Inexcusable for a driver with 15 years of commercial driving experience, trained with the Smith Driving Systems and the proud holder of a passenger endorsement on his CDL.
Fortunately, no one got hurt. It was a small incident that earned me a (well deserved) safety complaint to Uber from an otherwise friendly passenger. And this is how I learned my first ridesharing safety rule.
Ridesharing Safety Tips For Drivers
These tips are meant to help you stay safer on the road. Uber & Lyft are wonderful, useful platforms, but there are few safety issues (mainly caused by the very nature of the driving job). No matter if you are a new rideshare driver, an experienced one, a male or female driver, you should always respect these rules:
1. When You Drop Off A Passenger, Put The Transmission In Park
Same as with other healthy habits, if you practice it from the very beginning, it becomes routine. Something that you do without even thinking about it. So, make sure the transmission stays in park until the passenger you dropped off is safely distanced from your vehicle.
2. Drive The Speed Limit
I shouldn’t even have to mention this. But, out there, I see a whole bunch of Uber and Lyft drivers driving fast, well above the posted speed limit. Keep in mind that your $15-$20 trip (or whatever you’re getting for it) is not worth paying a $100 or more speeding ticket or going through the hassle of hiring a lawyer and going to traffic court. If your passenger is in a hurry, that doesn’t mean that you have to be in a hurry and risk a ticket or worse. Kindly remind your ridesharing passenger that all that you can do is take the fastest, safest route (and next time order a ride 5-10 minutes earlier, bub – no, don’t say that). There are other ways to make more money ridesharing than speeding.
3. Don’t Stop On Railway Tracks
And don’t back-up on railway tracks either. I saw an Uber driver do just that last week and get pulled over by Metra Police in Chicago.
4. Know Your City And The Surrounding Areas
Especially the bad, ill-reputed areas. You might want to avoid those, especially after dusk. If you do get a trip that takes you in such an area, stick to driving on the main routes and streets that are well lit and with more traffic on them. After you drop off a passenger, you might want to drive to a safer area before you start taking ride requests again.
5. Double Check Your Navigation
Uber has an in-app navigation feature and Lyft uses Waze. These navigation features are lifesavers, of course, except for when they aren’t. Uber has put me on wrong-way alleyways, and Waze also has me taking alleyways on a regular basis. When I am in downtown Chicago, both navigations systems can’t tell the difference between the lower level and the upper level of the same street.
When it comes to the pinpoint pick-up of drop-off locations, neither of them are doing a very good job, either. Uber’s navigation put me 1/4 mile away from a passenger, on the other side of an expressway with no clear path how to get there. When I searched for the pick-up point on Google Maps, it gave me a 10 minute ETA. I had to call the passenger and meekly explain what happened. He canceled the ride request, of course. And it wasn’t no one’s fault, but my own, for not double checking the directions.
Update: On October 12 2017, Lyft has announced their own in app navigation solution, built with Google Maps. It is currently rolling out on Android, with iOS expected to follow soon. Yay Lyft!
6. Learn The Pick-Up And Drop Off Rules Of Your City
There are special pick up and drop off rules for places such as airports, stadiums, etc . Take a moment to learn these rules as you might get a ticket for breaking them and you might also put yourself and your passengers at risk by going to the wrong place.
7. Don’t Flash Valuables
Keep your cash, electronic devices and other valuables hidden while driving for Uber or Lyft.
8. Don’t Argue With Passengers Or Other Drivers
If you have an issue, pull over and report them to the authorities and/or to the ridesharing service you are currently driving for. The world is crazy enough without adding one more angry voice to it. And, usually, nothing good comes out of arguing and yelling beside a bad rating or putting yourself at risk.
9. Don’t Drive On An Almost Empty Tank
It is easy to get a few ride requests in a row and reach the bottom of your tank without even noticing. Avoid fueling with passengers on board. Best thing is to purchase a few gallons of gas when you have the chance.
10. Consider Investing In A Dual Lense Dash Cam
A dual lense dash cam can save you a lot of trouble, if you are legally allowed to use one in your state. Learn how you can find one of the the best dual lense dash cam on the market.
11. Don’t Over Exert Yourself
Tomorrow’s another day and there are better ways to make more money with Uber and Lyft than driving lots and lots of hours. Also, some states and cities have their own rules on how long rideshare drivers are allowed to drive.
Please let me know if you have your own rules for keeping safe while ridesharing. Who knows, you might even save a fellow driver from lots of trouble.