Not all gig drivers are female, by a long shot. However, women do make up a hefty proportion of the driver population. Gridwise data indicates that approximately 41% of the Gridwise community identify as female.
Female drivers come from all age groups and have a variety of reasons for choosing gig driving. Many of them drive because it can be a fun way to bring in extra money, while others relish the way flexible hours let them choose their shifts.
Women who must live on a fixed income, or who don’t earn enough from another part-time job find gig driving to be a quick and easy way to keep money flowing into their bank accounts. Female college and grad school students, as well as professionals who have found themselves on the wrong side of company layoffs, find gig driving to be a viable way to keep themselves in decent financial shape.
A fair number of female drivers do their gig full time, and use their ambition and determination to make a very good living in the gig economy. In general, female drivers have the same reasons for working in rideshare and delivery that men do.
Yet there are some differences in the way they experience interactions while doing their jobs. Men are, at times, subjected to sexual harassment, but incidents of this kind happen to women far more frequently.
According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, 43% of men and 81% of women have experienced some form of sexual harassment and/or assault. So if you’re a male and have stayed with us this far, you may want to keep reading. But more so for women, the potential for sexual harassment and assault, along with the likelihood of being robbed or attacked, could explain why the friends and family members of so many women Uber drivers are constantly dogging them about the safety of rideshare driving and delivery.
You can put their minds at ease, and take care of any concerns of your own, by using some of these tips on to make driving for DoorDash, Instacart, Lyft, and Uber as safe as it is profitable and convenient.
Personal safety: Keep smart options at your fingertips
How safe is Uber for female drivers? The more you know, the safer you’ll be. In the event of an emergency, or in a moment when you’re in danger, what would you do? You can always call 911, of course. In addition to that option, rideshare and delivery companies are pretty diligent about providing one-button options for getting help. Here are some examples:
- In-app emergency assistance button calls for help and shows your trip details.
- “Follow my ride” feature lets family and friends track your movements and watch for irregularities.
- RideTrack will alert Uber if your trip goes drastically off-course; and if they don’t hear from you, the company will call to check your status.
See more about Uber’s safety features for drivers on the Uber website.
- In-app button gives access to ADT, who will get you instant assistance.
- You can share your location with trusted friends and family.
- Lyft provides videos for drivers to learn more about keeping themselves safe.
The Lyft Website provides further details about the safety features Lyft offers.
Is DoorDash safe for female drivers? This and other delivery companies definitely do their part to make it that way. The delivery apps DoorDash, Instacart, Shipt, and Grubhub have features that instantly connect drivers to emergency services via ADT or RapidSOS, training videos, plus other features that promote safety while driving, such as allowing fewer notifications from customers.
There is no doubt that these features can be helpful, and you should definitely use them. Above and beyond the tools offered by your rideshare or delivery company, though, we recommend that you get a dashcam.
When a Pittsburgh area Uber driver was shot and killed by a passenger in the fall of 2021, police were able to follow her attacker’s trail through her phone’s Uber activity, but her dashcam gave them even more information. The video evidence of the incident not only enabled authorities to identify the attacker, it will also be used to support the state’s case against him. This CNN article provides the details of the aftermath of this terrible tragedy, and the role the driver’s dashcam played in it.
Make sure that you protect yourself with all the available technology. Read more about what a dashcam can do to protect you.
Obviously, this was an extreme case, and one that nobody deserves or wants to see repeated. In a similar way, no driver deserves to be the victim of sexual harassment. If you encounter a passenger who comes across as suggestive, or downright creepy and aggressive, having that recording can seal your case against them. If you do delivery work, wearing a body cam can deter attackers or harassers from selecting you to be their next victim.
Read more about how to deflect unwanted passenger behavior in this article from The Conversation.
In addition to taking basic safety measures, there are other things you can do to ensure that you enjoy being a female Uber driver without being harmed, and become a poster person for female Lyft driver safety.
9 tips for female rideshare and delivery drivers
These tips are geared to women (and men) who take their personal safety seriously. Use them like your life depends on it, because it just might.
On every trip
- Before a trip, check your passengers. Look at their ratings, and if they’re low, consider letting the opportunity pass you by. Plus, make sure the person getting into your car is the same person who is on the passenger account.
- During a trip, keep doors locked and windows up. Be aware of your surroundings, especially when walking outside your car. Trust your instincts. If your gut tells you something doesn’t feel safe, it probably isn’t.
- After a trip, check for belongings that might get left behind before the passenger leaves, so you won’t be called back to a sketchy address to return them.
Throughout your shifts
- Stay alert and follow your instincts
- Trust your gut. Don’t ignore those messages or remarks that make you feel unsafe. If a potential passenger looks dangerous or even a little bit creepy, keep your distance. Don’t be afraid to cancel a ride. Your safety is far more important than your cancellation rate. You can always report your reason for canceling to your company.
- Maintain a “strictly business” attitude. The way you present yourself as a driver can speak volumes about what you will—and absolutely will not—tolerate.
- Be alert. If you’re parked on a lonely street, look all around you to make sure there’s no one suspicious who might mark you as a target.
- Carry yourself with confidence. Whether you’re walking to your vehicle or dropping off a delivery, keep your head up and walk with a purpose; don’t let yourself be distracted. When it looks like you know where you’re going, and that you have a strong sense of self-confidence, you’re far less likely to be marked as a victim.
- Consider self-defense training. It is against company policy, and in many cases illegal, to carry weapons while you’re doing rideshare or delivery driving, so that’s not what we mean here. We’re talking self-defense classes and martial arts schools that can help you develop skills and “street smarts.” You’ll learn as much or more about how to prevent or get out of a situation as you will about actual bodily defense or hand-to-hand combat—something that’s well worth the money and effort. Plus, it can be a great way to stay in shape!
- Report any and all incidents to your driving platform. If a passenger harasses or touches you, report it to your company. They will deal with the customer and probably terminate their app privileges. You have the right to refuse a ride or ask a passenger to leave your vehicle if you feel the least bit unsafe. Your company should, and probably will, support your decision. Read more about how to deal with troublesome customers.
- Know where safe areas are and assess your surroundings
Learn street names and localities of safer neighborhoods, and try your best to stay in them. Stick to the busiest parts of town where more people are around. Beware of simply following “surges.” Often, the rates are highest in those areas that most drivers would rather not go. Use Where to Drive to see where the best areas to drive are, and where drivers are getting the most money for their time.
- Drive at safe times
Is Uber safe for women at night? Well, it can be. If you know you will be around large crowds or otherwise familiar territory, you don’t have so much to worry about. How do you know when the safest times to drive are?
It might be all right to be out on a weekend at midnight, when people need you to take them to and from bars, restaurants, and cultural events. Late on a Tuesday or Wednesday evening, though, the same areas that seemed so lively might be deserted, and even dangerous.
You could try figuring out the good and not-so-great times to drive by trial and error, or you could get the facts right away when you use When to Drive from Gridwise. This feature graphs out data from real Gridwise drivers to show you when the best (and safest) times to drive are in your town.
- Use Gridwise and its many features to help you navigate other information and services that could impact your earnings and your safety, such as
- airport information: arrivals, departures, and queue lengths at your location
- weather: current information and weather alerts
- traffic alerts: where the bottlenecks are and how to avoid them
- gas deals: save on fuel costs with Gridwise Gas
- event information: start times, end times, locations—everything you need to know about local events
Using Gridwise features is a wise way to stay safe, and the following tidbit is just one more thing we’d like you to consider.
Important tip from a successful female gig driver: Always have your car or phone’s GPS programmed to take you to a busy place, such as the cultural district or an area with a lot of restaurants and bars. That way, if you have to drop off a passenger or delivery in a quiet, dangerous-looking place, you can turn off your driving app and get to a safer location with ease.
- Maintain your vehicle and call for help when needed
Nobody wants to have their vehicle break down in the middle of a gig driving shift, but it can happen. When it happens to women, it can pose additional safety risks. Getting a flat or discovering your battery is dead on a lonely country road takes on new meaning when there’s a greater possibility of encounters with people whose intentions are not-so-good.
It’s true that proper car maintenance can cost money, but it’s an investment you can’t afford not to make. Stay fully informed about what it takes to keep your car running. You might already know how to perform many of these tasks, and you may be able to change a tire in just a few minutes…flat. But in the event you’re not an automotive whiz, or you definitely need a tow, there is help you can always call on.
There are affordable roadside assistance programs for drivers, and some programs help drivers get reduced prices on car maintenance (including up to 44% off certain maintenance services!).
- Be prepared and well equipped
Because you’re driving so much and to so many different places as a gig driver, it’s more important than ever to carry equipment that you might need when emergencies arise. Here are some suggestions:
- jumper cables or battery charger
- tire gauge
- spare tire (and knowledge of how to change a flat)
- tool kit
- hand warmers
- snack food
- wiper fluid
- motor oil
- a blanket and/or an extra coat
- snow shovel/brush
- safety cones and/or flares
- flashlight or headlamp
Even though these supplies will take up room in your vehicle, the fact they can save your life is worth it. Weather is important to keep in mind too. Waiting for the tow truck in the middle of a hot desert road or blizzard-blocked highway could make you see how that water, snacks, or thermal blanket can earn their keep.
Being a rideshare or delivery driver can be both safe and profitable. Do you have other tips or tricks for staying safe on the road? Let us know in the comments!