You might already be a driver, or you might be thinking about it. In either case, recent events could lead you to ask an important question: Is it safe to drive for Uber and Lyft?
That’s the question we’ll explore by covering these topics:
- Driver safety: a real concern
- What are companies doing to protect drivers?
- What more could companies do?
- How can drivers protect themselves?
Driver safety: A real concern
There are two types of safety drivers need to think about: one, the remaining threat of COVID-19; and two, personal safety from potential harm. There have been a number of incidents lately that might raise the question of being hurt – or worse – while driving for rideshare and delivery.
We’ve been talking for a while now about whether it’s worth going back out to drive for rideshare as the world opens again after the pandemic. This recent Gridwise article covers many issues related to driver earnings, as well as the levels of demand earlier this spring.
Higher earnings is good news for the business end of rideshare. If you want to make money, it’s out there to be made. But if you’re worried about your health, or the health of someone you could potentially infect, you need to know more about what the current driving environment is like and how protected you might be.
There are other issues to think about as well. Personal safety is a major concern, and recent events have shown this more than ever. On June 1, 2021, a 38-year old father of three was shot and killed by four youths who attempted to rob him and steal his rideshare vehicle. He died shortly after the incident.
Apparently, delivery drivers can get into the worst kinds of trouble, even without taking passengers into their cars. An example of this is the recent case of an Uber Eats driver who died after being dragged through the streets of Washington D.C. by similarly heartless youth. They tazed the driver, took over the vehicle, and then crashed and overturned the vehicle, which resulted in the driver’s death.
These stories would cause most reasonable drivers to think about their own safety. What would you do in a similar situation? What would the companies do to help, and what can both the companies and drivers do to ensure driver safety?
What companies do to protect drivers
On the COVID front, there is good news for drivers. Companies continue to enforce CDC rules about wearing masks and sanitizing vehicles. They’re also still handing out free safety equipment, including masks and hand sanitizer. On this screenshot from the Uber app, you can see the policy as of this date – as well as those extra-high driver incentives that are still in effect.
As shown, both drivers and passengers will continue to use safe practices while sharing space on rideshare trips for the foreseeable future. If wearing a mask makes you feel safe, then this should encourage you and help you feel better about getting back out on the road.
What’s nice about Uber and Lyft’s mask policies is that the companies allow both the passenger and driver to express displeasure if the other doesn’t wear a mask. You are allowed to refuse rides to passengers who don’t comply, and they could lose their privileges to use the app – but keep in mind that it goes both ways.
If you fail to wear a mask, you could lose your driving privileges. Yes, it is still an unfortunate reality that if you get into a dispute with a passenger, or if you meet one of those wise-a&&es who just wants to weasel a free ride, you could have a complaint filed against you.
In terms of personal safety, the companies expect a lot of drivers but they don’t do much to protect us. Even if delivery drivers feel safe locked inside their vehicles, they can’t do their jobs if they stay locked in there. They have to get in and out of their vehicles, and are often sent into scary, unsafe neighborhoods to complete their deliveries.
Rideshare drivers feel pressure to accept as many rides as possible, because refusing can affect their ratings. That often means getting calls into high-crime areas, and sometimes even unknowingly transporting people who might be involved in criminal activity.
Both Uber and Lyft talk about driver safety, but most of it has to do with common sense practices and “community guidelines.” It’s more difficult to find information about driver safety from the food delivery companies. Package delivery drivers might face additional risk, particularly if they’re seen carrying high-priced electronics or other valued items by unscrupulous individuals.
There are safety features built into the apps that allow drivers to share their whereabouts with loved ones so they can keep track of them. Beyond this, although some companies offer a bit of advice on how to improve safety, they haven’t taken many proactive measures.
With recent events, however, this could change – and rightfully so. There is little doubt that more that could be done, and perhaps the companies will see fit to institute more protective practices.
What more could companies do?
In terms of COVID-19, safety measures are pretty sound. The mutual masking policy between passengers and drivers seems to be working, and as the pandemic wanes, fear on that front seems to be fading.
When it comes to personal safety, though, the companies could be more conscious of the dangers that their drivers face, and do more to protect them. Here are some suggested measures:
- Educate drivers on personal safety
- Screen potential customers more thoroughly
- Stop using acceptance rates to calculate driver ratings
- Train drivers how to protect themselves in high crime areas
- Compensate drivers who are victims of crime while on the job
How drivers can protect themselves
Drivers need to protect themselves, whether it’s from a highly contagious illness like COVID-19 or incidents that threaten their personal safety. This list covers both issues, and some of the measures are useful for both.
Follow safety policies.
Be aware of your company’s community guidelines and policies regarding masks, verifying your passengers, and avoiding letting them into your front seat.
Know what your apps can do.
Get a dashcam.
If you haven’t done so already, make it possible to record every transaction you encounter on the road. Along with providing potential evidence of a crime, your dashcam and the sign telling passengers they’re being recorded could act as a potent deterrent. Be sure to register your dashcam with your company, as they’ll want to know that you’re using one.
It’s highly unlikely you’re going to get into an MMA-type struggle with a criminal, but learning basic self-defense is valuable for every driver. This includes being aware of your surroundings, carrying yourself with confidence, and sending out signals that you’re not a victim. Possibly the best lesson all good martial artists learn is this: When it looks like you’re going to be attacked, run, scream, hit the gas, and do everything you can to get away from the situation.
We at Gridwise understand that drivers today face potential dangers, and this can affect how you feel about your job. We hope this article helps you sort out your concerns, and identify what you can do to stay safe as you pursue success with your gig-driving life.
Track and don’t slack – let Gridwise get you going again
Getting back on the road can feel kind of unfamiliar at first, especially if it’s been a while for you. So let Gridwise help you get back in the groove. Simply link your driving and delivery accounts to the Gridwise app, and it will track all your earnings and mileage. You’ll be able to tell which of the gigs you drive for is helping you the most when the app puts it all together in colorful graphs like these:
Want to know if you should opt for Uber or Lyft? Try both and see which one wins the race to higher earnings. Keep track of your mileage deductions, and record expenses as they come up for you.
And that’s not all. This ingenious tool of an app keeps you current on events opening up in your town, gives you the lowdown on traffic at the airport, and alerts you to weather and road conditions that affect your driving.
Use the Perks tab to get quick access to the Gridwise Blog and YouTube channel, and cash in on deals and discounts for drivers. You can join us on Facebook, too, where we have gas card giveaways, as well as a great community of fellow drivers.
What are you waiting for? If you haven’t done so already, download the app now!