The cool thing about being a rideshare driver is you can work for a few hours a day, several hours a week, or make it a full-time gig if you want. But you need to be protected, physically and financially, whenever you get behind the wheel, no matter how few or how many hours you work. Here are some safety tips for Uber drivers and Lyft drivers to prepare you for, and hopefully prevent, unexpected and dangerous situations.
Legally, you must have personal auto insurance to drive on your own, let alone be a rideshare driver that transports passengers from point A to point B. But is there such a thing as Lyft insurance? Do you need special insurance to drive for Uber? First, let’s talk about what rideshare insurance is, because you will need this form of supplemental insurance to protect yourself in case of an incident.
All rideshare drivers are legally obligated to have rideshare insurance to work for transportation network companies (TNC) like Uber or Lyft. Why? Because when you work for TNC companies like these, your car is being used for business purposes, and personal insurance alone will not cover you if there’s an accident. Not having the proper coverage could cost you a lot of time and money, and possibly, your license. If you are involved in an accident while rideshare driving, there are three time periods where insurance from Uber or Lyft could kick in and cover you:
- Period 1: You’ve turned on and logged in to the rideshare app of the company you’re driving for at the time. You start driving around waiting for a ride request. Most personal insurance companies will not offer coverage during this period. However, If you have rideshare insurance and an accident occurs, it will be activated at that time.
- Period 2: You’re logged in to the app, you receive a ride request, and you begin driving to pick up your passenger at a specified location. This is when Lyft commercial insurance or Uber supplemental insurance covers you.
- Period 3: When your passenger enters your car, they are then fully covered by Uber’s or Lyft’s insurance, depending on which one you’re working for at the time.
Remember, as a rideshare driver, you absolutely need rideshare insurance, especially for the following reasons:
- Your car is being used for business.
- You are on the road more than other drivers, so the risk of getting into an accident is higher.
- Rideshare drivers suffer from fatigue behind the wheel more than other drivers.
- You are responsible for your passenger’s safety, and you’re likely to be responsible for their medical needs if an accident occurs while you’re driving.
- You want to lower or eliminate the possibility of a commercial lawsuit brought against you.
Here are some companies that offer rideshare insurance for drivers:
- USAA rideshare insurance
- Allstate Insurance
- Esurance rideshare insurance
- Farmers Insurance
FYI, HyreCar includes comprehensive rideshare insurance with every rental vehicle. This provides you with a convenient alternative to negotiating with your personal insurance company, or switching to another one because your current one doesn’t offer the coverage that you need.
Now that we’ve discussed financial safety through supplemental insurance, let’s cover personal safety for both you and your passengers. You may never get into an accident, or pick up a potentially dangerous, unstable passenger, but as we all know, stuff happens. Here are a few tips to keep in mind when it comes to rideshare safety:
Always Require Passengers to Wear a Seatbelt
- This is an absolute must to prevent injuries in case of an accident. If a belligerent passenger says something like they don’t believe in seat belts, or they refuse to put one on, you should not hesitate to tell them that you can not offer them a ride for insurance reasons.
- The seatbelt will restrict a passenger’s movements should they become unruly or physically threatening during the ride. Again, not likely, but it’s always possible that an intoxicated or drug-using passenger could be disruptive and dangerous.
- When possible, ask the passenger to sit in the back seat with their seatbelt fastened. You do not have to invite passengers to sit next to you in the front.
Keep Yourself Protected
- If you regularly pick up rides in what might be considered rough areas, especially at night, it can’t hurt to keep pepper spray, a taser, or a pocket knife within your reach. Just make sure you aren’t violating any state regulations.
- Adjust your mirrors to make sure that your backseat passengers are in sight so you can keep an eye on them if necessary.
Install a Dash Cam
What are dash cams for? They function to fully protect yourself when picking up and transporting passengers while rideshare driving. Do some research on your state’s laws when it comes to recording passengers. You may be required to inform your passengers that you have a camera running. Thinkware provides great Dash Dams at an affordable price. Click HERE to order yours and enjoy FREE shipping!
- Dash cams, especially those with a wide angle lens, record everything, audio, and video, that’s going on in the front and back seats when it comes to your Uber passenger or Lyft passenger. If your passenger becomes physically threatening or verbally disrespectful, the dash cam will document this. This footage can be used later in case you need to contact the police or if the passenger causes an accident.
- The dash cam is also good to have in case a passenger falsely accuses you of saying or doing something inappropriate.
Install a Phone Mount
As a rideshare driver, rideshare safety starts with you. Keeping your eyes on the road, instead of looking down and fumbling for your cell phone when a ride request comes in, is of the utmost importance. The reality is, engaging with an app while on the road is a big part of working for a transportation network company like Uber or Lyft. Installing a phone mount so your phone is easy to see and access while driving is an excellent way to keep distractions to a minimum.
- Phone mounts allow you to take quick glances at your phone, while keeping the road in your line of sight, just in case you need to check GPS directions or the name of your passenger.
- Avoid swiping or tapping the rideshare app until you’re either stopped at a red light or you can pull over for a minute. Never text while the car is in motion.
- The fact that your phone mount is tax deductible as a business expense is another good reason to get one.
- When your passenger sees that you have your cell phone mounted in a safe, easy-to-view place, it will make them feel more relaxed and secure. They want to see your hands on the wheel and your eyes on the road, which could contribute to you getting a high rating as a driver, or even a tip.
Use Reliable GPS
You definitely don’t want to get lost while transporting a passenger to their location or while trying to find them in a dimly lit, rough part of town. A high quality GPS navigation app will keep you headed in the right direction. Whether you use the convenient Uber GPS that’s built into the Uber app or a third party navigation app like Waze or the Google maps app, you want to make sure of the following:
- Your navigation app corrects you if you make a wrong turn or miss a turn.
- It offers alternate routes in case of traffic or an accident.
- It’s easy to read with a quick glance to your mounted phone if you don’t have voice-guided directions activated.
- Passengers like to know how long their ride will take. An estimated time of arrival function lets your passenger know how long it will take to get to their destination.
- Bottom line: Knowing where you’re going saves you time, money, and the possibility of dealing with an increasingly impatient passenger.
Be Vigilant and Selective
Every time you pick up a passenger, or passengers, you’re essentially letting people you don’t know into your personal vehicle. It could be at lunchtime in a busy downtown area filled with shops and restaurants or way after midnight in a remote part of town populated by dive bars. So is being an Uber driver safe? And is it safe for women to drive for Uber? Chances are you will never have a problem with the passengers that you pick up, but it’s always good to consider a few safety tips.
- You don’t need to pick up every passenger that requests a ride from you. If someone looks or acts inebriated when you arrive, don’t take the risk of letting them in your car. Sometimes, people call for a ride when they’re unable to safely operate a vehicle on their own due to drinking or drugs. It’s your choice if you want that person in your car.
- Be choosy about the areas you drive in and the times you drive there. If you’re not comfortable in a certain part of town at certain times of day, just avoid them. Decline the ride if the person who you’re picking up is not the person who requested the ride. Same holds true if there are unexpected extra passengers looking for a lift
- Encourage passengers to sit in the back seat with their seatbelt fastened.
- As discussed earlier, it’s a good idea to have pepper spray or a legal, defensive weapon within reach in case a passenger becomes belligerent or physically threatening.
- If you feel threatened at any time while a passenger is in the car, call 911 and/or pull off safely in a populated area, if possible.
Report Poor Rider Behavior
Remember, passengers get ratings from drivers just like drivers get ratings from passengers. If you do give a ride to a passenger who is unruly due to alcohol or drugs, is verbally or physically abusive to you, or who makes you uncomfortable in any way, use your discretion to end the ride early and drop them off in a safe place. Then give them a low passenger rating and report their bad behavior to the rideshare company you’re currently driving for. This could eventually lead to their rider account being canceled.
**NOTE: You can always choose to drive for other on-demand gig economy companies like DoorDash, Postmates, Instacart, and Shipt, where you will be delivering food and other products instead of other people.
The bottom line when it comes to rideshare driver safety is to stay calm, obey all traffic rules, and don’t let a passenger pressure you into breaking any traffic violations. Use common sense and be prepared for the unexpected. This can help keep you safe and protected while you’re driving for Uber or Lyft.
Be safe out there, and happy driving!