COVID-19 Lockdowns Are Being Lifted—Should rideshare and delivery drivers start driving again?

COVID-19 Lockdowns Are Being Lifted—Should rideshare and delivery drivers start driving again?

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For a lot of reasons, it’s been a rough few months. 

Many of us have continued driving through the COVID-19 crisis, and some have switched to delivery or folded in some food runs with regular driving. Others have stayed in sequestration, waiting for the danger to pass and/or holding out until businesses open up again.

Although the shutdowns imposed by government agencies were harsh and sudden, the process of re-opening will be slow and gradual. Depending on where you live and where you do most of your driving, before too long you’ll begin to see people returning to their offices, and maybe to local bars and restaurants.

What will the transition back to a post-COVID world be like for you? Our goal for this post is to help you prepare for the next phase of your rideshare and delivery life. We’ll cover:

  • How business will be different
  • Physical and financial matters to consider as you get ready to drive
  • What the companies are doing to support your return
  • How you can prepare
  • New strategies for a prosperous driving and/or delivery business

We hope this post will give you the information you need to make decisions about returning to work and feeling confident and comfortable being a driver again.

What will the post-COVID rideshare environment be like?

Short answer: No one knows. 

What we do know is that it will be quite a while before everything is back to how it was before the country was gripped by COVID-19. Another certainty is that things will vary from one state to another, and in many cases, from one county or city to the next. 

Here’s some food for thought about what your local area could look like, and how you might adapt to the changes around you.

It bears repeating that in the post-COVID world, the reopening will be slow and gradual. Riders will emerge from sheltering in place as the businesses they work for and the places they enjoyed frequenting begin to open. In this new world, you’ll inevitably see:

  • Less airport, train, and bus station traffic
  • Fewer people working in offices
  • Schools, colleges, and universities remaining closed, with populations scattered
  • Restaurants, casinos, clubs, and bars at limited capacity
  • Fewer sports games—many with no fans allowed
  • Few if any concerts and special events

On the positive side, there may be more …

  • Riders reluctant to ride public transit
  • People continuing to use rideshare for shopping
  • Customers for food delivery
  • Customers who have liked getting their groceries and packages delivered
  • Bigger tips than usual

We’re expecting rideshare passengers, as well as an ever-growing community of delivery customers, to appreciate drivers more than ever since COVID-19 showed them what we can do. As the reopening process unfolds, customers will continue to love on us, and we’re also going to be really glad to see them. But before we get to that point, there are more possibilities to ponder.

What factors should you consider when deciding whether to drive again?

Your decision to return to work is yours alone. 

Each of us will have our own idea of when it’s the right time to go back to driving. It all depends on personal situations and what’s happening in the area where we drive. Our two main considerations will be safety/risk factors, and financial need. 

Safety considerations

Companies have instructed drivers to sanitize their cars (read more about that here). They’ve also made it a requirement for all drivers and riders to wear masks and wash their hands before every ride. 

Even though it involves extra effort, these recommendations make good sense. They will help people feel safer during rideshare trips, and can keep drivers safe as well.

Yet even with all the precautions, there are important safety and risk issues to think about:

  • Despite taking every possible precaution to stay safe, driving and delivering will still put you at risk of contracting COVID-19. 
  • If you’re a high-risk individual, you may want to go above and beyond the measures the companies have instructed drivers to take.
  • If you do get sick, you must stay home and contact your doctor.
  • If you’ve been exposed to someone who has COVID-19, or think you might have been, stay home until you can be tested to see if you’ve been infected.
  • If you’re in contact or live with people in high-risk groups, be especially vigilant about taking precautions.

Financial considerations

We need to face facts here: No matter how much drivers may want to stay home, where you’re safer from COVID-19 than most anywhere else, those dastardly bills still have to be paid. So this is when you’ll need to do some serious thinking about issues like these:

  • Know the status of COVID-19 lockdowns in your area, and how they will affect your driving.
  • Determine if there’s enough business to make driving pay off for you.
  • Consider the costs of extra cleaning and other equipment you’ll need to keep yourself and your passengers safe.
  • Be aware that if you make too much money, your unemployment status could change and affect your ability to continue to file claims.
  • Know the facts about working part time while collecting unemployment in your state. There’s more information in this post.

Although the COVID-19 situation is constantly changing, it appears that the rideshare business is on the upswing. But before you get your wheels in motion again, be sure to do all that thinking and weighing of risks versus benefits that we’ve talked about so far.

Is rideshare demand picking up?

Our recent research shows us that it certainly is! Our recent survey of 120,000 drivers, plus a study of company trends, yields some very interesting facts.

  • Customers, even though their trips are not as numerous, still want to use rideshare.
  • There are 71% fewer drivers on the road.
  • Companies are offering increased incentives to keep and get drivers working.
  • Hourly earnings for drivers are creeping back up to where they were before the pandemic.
  • Customers are likely to come back quickly, increasing demand for drivers.
  • Companies are emphasizing, and investing in, cleanliness to increase rideshare customers’ sense of safety.
  • Rideshare (and delivery) are likely to thrive as the economy continues to reopen.

What’s even more telling is that drivers have been earning more and more each week. Take a look at the median hourly earnings that drivers are seeing.

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This indicates that drivers are seeing increasing demand. It should be noted however that most drivers are still not on the road. So as more drivers get back behind the wheel, you’ll see earnings begin to stabilize.


Now, about those safety concerns – we know we need to pay more attention to, and spend money on, cleanliness. We also realize we could use some help from the companies.

Exactly what safeguards and opportunities do the companies offer?

Throughout the COVID-19 crisis, many drivers have said companies needed to do more for them. Here’s an open letter we put out to the companies a few weeks back.

There’s a long wish list that includes extra pay, changing drivers’ status from independent contractors to employees with full benefits, providing personal protective gear, and installing plastic barriers to protect drivers from potentially contagious passengers.

How well the companies have done in the past may or may not be indicative of what they’ll do once we start emerging from this crisis.

If you aren’t aware of what Uber and Lyft will do if you get sick or are exposed (and what it’s like to seek the benefits), you can find more information here.

Meanwhile, here’s what we have from the companies so far:

  • Both Uber and Lyft have policies in place for financially compensating drivers who are unable to work due to sickness from COVID-19 or exposure to it. The financial help is limited, but it’s there. 
  • Protocols for rideshare have been created for both drivers and riders. Uber drivers must go through a safety checklist before driving, and all Uber and Lyft riders are instructed to sanitize their hands and wear a mask during their rideshare trips.
  • Uber and Lyft have taken actions that offer drivers options beyond rideshare. New offerings such as Uber Direct, Uber Hourly, Lyft’s medical driver force, and more are either in place or in the works. These efforts to diversify their business operations are helpful to drivers who are eager to earn more. If rideshare doesn’t rebound as fast as most of us hope, these options for delivery and taking riders to run their errands could help beef up driver income. 

By way of preparation…

While you’re mulling over your personal needs, and surveying the potential market around you, there are some steps you can take to get—and stay—ready to drive when the time comes.

  • Be informed about what’s opening, what’s still closed, and what restrictions there might be on you as a driver.
  • Take some time and spend a little money to have your car overhauled, inspected, and if needed, repaired. Once you get out there and don’t have as much time, you’ll be glad you took care of it.
  • Check your phone mount and dash cam to make sure they’re still working the way you need them to be.
  • Ensure you have your decals/amps ready to display.
  • Keep up to date with the requirements your company has for COVID-19 precautions.
  • Make sure you’re well-supplied with masks, cleaners, and hand sanitizer.

New driving strategies for the post-COVID world

We know there might not be as many customers, and it’s likely they won’t be found in all the (former) usual places. So, we have to go looking for business. If we can get some rideshare business, there are ways to add to it that will increase our income. Here are a few ideas.

  • For rideshare, you’re going to have to figure out where riders are likely to be. Find out what businesses are open, and cruise through the right neighborhoods. 
  • Be adventurous. Instead of sitting at the airport, ride around suburban communities to look for riders who may need you to get from place to place.
  • Consider options for using your car for advertising.
  • Add in a side gig you can do at home, to keep you going until everything is fully open and running again.
  • Stick with Gridwise for help on all fronts.
  • Add delivery—food, grocery, parcels—to your business.

In our new normal, one of the best strategies for drivers will be to experiment with different platforms and focus on apps that are working best for you. That means ensuring you’re signed up for delivery services like DoorDash, Instacart, Postmates, Shipt, along with the rideshare services.

Drivers should then try their hand with different apps, and understand their hourly pay to decide which apps are working for them.

You can use Gridwise to track your mileage, and earnings, for free, so you can understand what apps are making you the most money.

So if you don’t already have our app, download it now

You can use our app to track your earnings and get announcements and blog posts that can help you navigate the post-COVID world. Also, for up-to-the-minute insight and cool info, subscribe to J & Brandon’s amazing podcast

And don’t forget all the discounts for drivers we have for you on the Gridwise Perks tab!  

Stay safe out there.

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