Some Uber riders aren’t wearing masks. Here’s what drivers can do to protect themselves.

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Have you gone back to rideshare driving yet? 

If so, you’re undoubtedly aware of the new reopening rules for both drivers and riders, in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. Like we told you in this blog post, in most cases you must go through a safety checklist before you can even open your app for rides.

As drivers, doing what’s asked of us is a no-brainer: make sure you’re not sick, sanitize the vehicle, keep your hands clean, and wear a mask. Now comes the part that’s a little more complicated: making sure riders are wearing a mask, and that no one sits in the front seat.

Congratulations—you just got a huge responsibility dumped on your shoulders. Now YOU have to be the person who makes sure your riders do what they must do to ride safely in your vehicle.

In this article, we’ll cover:

  1. Why drivers need to protect themselves now more than ever
  2. What tools drivers can use to protect themselves
  3. Why drivers need to adapt to our new normal
  4. Rules and regulations around dashcams
  5. What dashcams drivers should invest in
  6. How else can drivers protect themselves?

Why do drivers need to protect themselves now more than ever?

Well, because not everybody thinks rules apply to them. 

Although most reasonable people will comply with the new COVID-19 rules, others aren’t so easy to manage. In case you haven’t noticed, a huge, fresh supply of tempers with short fuses has popped up in Passengerland lately. 

People have been pent up for months, might still be out of work, possibly lost their business, and are outraged by recent and unjust events in our society. 

Now you, their humble rideshare driver, are telling them they must wear a mask, and they cannot sit next to you in the front seat. They may not digest all this without saying and doing things that could easily ruin your day.

One driver told us about a complaint that was filed against her after she told a passenger that she was not allowed to sit in the front seat. The passenger ranted and raved, swore, and hurled accusations at the driver. The driver calmly insisted she was just following the guidelines of the state health department, and complying with the rideshare service’s rules, but the rider wouldn’t stop yelling.

Within minutes, the driver saw an email come through on the app, scolding her for “making her customer feel uncomfortable.” Really? As the driver drove off from the cancelled ride (and away from the enraged passenger), she wasn’t feeling all that warm and fuzzy either. 

Fortunately, the driver was able to keep a comparatively cool head. She pulled over at a safe place and wrote back to tell the company what happened from her point of view. The driver added that she not only felt uncomfortable around that passenger, but also unsafe.

An apology email from the company came back within five minutes. 

The driver was fortunate that she was dealing with a fair and approachable person at the company, and that her record as a driver was pristine. This saved her from a lot of trouble. But she couldn’t help wondering what might happen the next time someone got belligerent about following simple, sensible rules.

After talking with a few peers, the driver realized she had to do something. 

Even though it was hard to accept that her customers couldn’t all be trusted to act like civilized human beings, that was reality and she knew it. She also knew she wasn’t going back out to drive without a way to conclusively prove the exact sequence of events that might occur in her car. So, she invested in a dashcam.

How can a dashcam help drivers protect themselves?

In case you’re wondering, the purpose of this blog post is NOT to shill for a dashcam company. You can choose to buy one, or not. We’ve merely recognized that despite the hassle and expense, in the post-COVID world a dashcam could turn out to be your best friend. 

Dashcams aren’t new. Many drivers have been using them as protection from false accusations, and also to keep accurate records in case of an accident or altercation. If you have a dashcam, you know why you need one, and you probably see why you need one now more than ever. 

If you don’t have a dashcam, you may want to consider getting one, because it will make your life easier when you enforce new rules with your riders. They may or may not do what you say, so it’s smart to make sure you have evidence to back you up in the next customer dispute. 

Here are a few things a dashcam will do for you.

  • If you get a 2- or 3-way camera, it will record everything that happens inside and in close proximity to your vehicle.
  • You (and the rideshare company) are protected from rider claims such as, “My driver wasn’t wearing a mask and now I have COVID-19.” 
  • Unruly behavior has a way of evaporating when a sign that says “Smile, you’re on camera!” is displayed prominently in your vehicle.
  • Your customers are likely to be more conscientious about wearing masks and complying with all safety rules when they know you have a device—your dashcam—that covers a lot more territory than your rearview mirror.
  • If anyone damages your vehicle, inside or out, you’ll have a video record to show police and insurance companies.

Aren’t things coming back to normal soon?

It’s true that people are beginning to emerge from their homes after a long period of lockdown, and that’s a good thing. They’ll be going out to eat and spending time in bars, and our business may well start to snap back. We’ve already seen some signs of this, and we hope for even greater rebound as more states gradually and carefully reopen.

Still, in many states rules for riding remain in place, and the rideshare companies want you, the driver, to enforce them.

Because people are so eager for “normal” again, they are likely to go back to their favorite drinking establishments and get slightly, or perhaps totally, inebriated. 

When they make their way to your car, they may not remember (or care about) the mask rule. You’re going to have to coax them to put one on, and that probably won’t be fun. 

As much as we all like to see our riders out enjoying themselves, we have to protect ourselves from what might happen if and when they’re no longer rational. This is always important, but it becomes crucial when we have to keep everybody who gets into the car safe from COVID-19. If a high-strung sober passenger can give you trouble, imagine what a drunk one can do.

This is obviously another reason why a dashcam would come in handy. But before you buy one and mount it in your vehicle, there’s more for you to know.

Are dash cams legal? 

As a driver, you can’t afford to get citations for anything. Not only do tickets cost money, if the offense is something that puts your safety record in question, it could get you deactivated. In the case of not following the law about dashcams in your car, it could get you cited by the police … or sued by your passengers.

There are two major legal issues that arise with dashcams.

  1. Is it legal to record another person with or without consent? 
  2. Is it legal to mount a dashcam on your windshield?

There’s no cut-and-dried answer to either of these questions, because laws vary from one state to the next. 

Recording your passengers from your dashboard is a form of surveillance. There are laws that restrict recording, require consent, or prohibit it entirely. Click here to see where your state stands on recording your rides. 

You can get little signs to put in your car that let passengers know you’re recording, but don’t put them where they will obstruct your view.

You’ll also have to be very careful about how and where you mount your camera. Windshield mounting is either restricted or illegal in many states, especially if the device is on the large side. The reason for this is understandable: You can’t obstruct your view through the windshield. You really can be cited for this, so follow this link  to see what the laws are in your state. There are options for mounting your camera on the dashboard, if the windshield isn’t possible for you.

Which dashcam should I get?

Please note, these are NOT affiliate links. However, the Gridwise team has used and tested a few dashcams, so we have an idea of what dashcams work for rideshare drivers. Here are our top 3 picks.

Best overall: Vantrue N2 Uber Dual Dash Cam – $149.95, Amazon.com

Best value: TOGUARD Dual Dash Cam  – $69.99, Amazon.com

Honorable mention: EACHPAI X200 GPS Dash Cam – $109.99, Amazon.com

Other ways to steer clear of troublesome passengers

If the idea of surveilling your passengers upsets you, or if you don’t want to invest in a dashcam – OR, if you simply want some other ideas for avoiding trouble, now that you have to enforce more rules, here are some things you can do:

Put signs up in your car. 

Keep the messages short, and not too draconian. Some ideas: “Uber regulations require you – and me – to wear a mask.” or “Sorry! Uber regulations prohibit me from taking passengers in the front seat.” If you’re talented, you can draw colorful little cartoons to illustrate – and lighten up the message.

Always be respectful, but remain calm and firm. 

No one has the right to challenge you for abiding by the rules – and keeping everyone safe. Rehearse some sentences beforehand, such as: 

“I guess you heard Uber requires us all to wear masks.” Or, 

“Hope you understand the rule about no one else in the front seat is to keep us all safe.”

 No one here thinks you’re not clever enough to know what to say, but “canned” messages such as these and others you might create come out safely and easily should you start to get upset.

Establish boundaries with all the rules and policies.

When people have a lot of rules imposed on them, some of them will want to bend one or two of them. If you’re clear about not allowing “spontaneous” stops and extra-long waits, you’re conveying a message that you’re following the rules, and people should not mess with you.

Don’t be afraid to cancel the ride.

If you pick up a passenger who refuses to comply, CANCEL THE RIDE. This is your right, always. Report what happened to your company immediately. Your customer could make up any story they wish. If you’re afraid too many cancelations might cause you to lose a decimal point on your 4.98 star rating, don’t. “Diamond status” with Uber will do you no good if you come down with a deadly virus.

When you stay safe, you protect yourself, your passengers, and your business

At Gridwise, your success is our first priority. That’s why we want you to think things through when you go back to work after the COVID-19 shutdowns, and stay protected on all fronts. 

Most of all, we want you to stay safe, and protected from unfair situations that could lead to your deactivation. There’s no doubt a dashcam can add that extra layer of protection that could make a difference.

We also want every rideshare and delivery drivers to protect and maximize their earnings.

The best way to do that is to use multiple services, and track your earnings to ensure that you’re only working for the apps that are making you the most money.

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

So if you don’t already have Gridwise app, download it now for free! 

So what are you waiting for? Download Gridwise and start tracking your earnings now!!!!

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