Is Uber safe for drivers?

There are many precautions Uber drivers must take to ensure safety while driving. From making sure your seatbelt is on to getting your car serviced on a regular basis, there are precautionary things everyone does to stay safe. Passengers expect a certain level of safety, and drivers should expect the same. News reports of Uber…

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There are many precautions Uber drivers must take to ensure safety while driving. From making sure your seatbelt is on to getting your car serviced on a regular basis, there are precautionary things everyone does to stay safe.

Passengers expect a certain level of safety, and drivers should expect the same. News reports of Uber and Lyft drivers assaulted by passengers and vice versa are enough to scare some out of rideshare altogether.

There’s no question — drivers and passengers should always feel safe when using Uber or any other ride-hail app. But safety concerns are valid.

There are things you can do to keep yourself safe from any possible dangerous conditions created by riders each time you head out to take Uber ride requests. We have compiled a safety checklist for drivers to follow while out on the road.

Our hope is that these safety tips will become second nature to you, like putting on your seatbelt every time you get in your car. Remember the following tips so you can stay safe as you drive for Uber and/or Lyft.

Have a Plan Before You Start Driving

Thinking about the possibility of an assault is not generally something people like to think about. Still, thinking about and preparing to handle any such situations is very important.

We hope you never have to experience such a traumatic event, but, thinking it through and preparing for it ahead of time may very well save your life.

First, you should think of possible scenarios that might happen and then come up for options as to how to handle each one.  For example, aggressive passengers may show signs of their anger by slamming the door too hard, hitting your interior with their fists, yelling on the phone, or hurling insults at you.

This type of behavior can be your initial warning, so beware. Next, you have to decide what you should do if you find yourself in this scenario. Should you continue driving or should you end the ride right then and there?

If your passenger is aggressive, you should end the ride immediately.

However, in the case of an aggressive passenger, you have to be very careful about how you end the right. It is best to do so in the most gentle way you can. You don’t want to aggravate the situation by becoming aggressive yourself. Always remember, forget your pride and save your life! Don’t be concerned with protecting your “honor” or dignity. Your top priority is safety.

If you get into a situation where a passenger is insulting you, don’t escalate the situation by arguing with them.  It’s best to keep quiet. Anything you say could aggravate them even more and cause the situation to get out of hand.  So, let them rant and rave and say whatever they want but concentrate on finding a safe spot where you can drop them off.  Don’t drop them off in the middle of nowhere. You don’t want them to feel stranded. That could make the situation even more dangerous.  You want to drop them off in a well-lit public area where they can easily call for a new ride. And then politely tell them the ride is over, ask them to get out and let them know they can call another ride.

There are plenty of other situations you may experience where a rider can make you uncomfortable.

Knowing how to handle worst-case scenarios if they arise, such as times when you need to defend yourself, is important to your safety. Due to this, we encourage you to create a plan of action ahead of time.

And remember: if there is any illegal activity, call emergency services or 911 ASAP.

Always Be In-Tune With Passenger Behavior

One of the best tools in a rideshare driver’s toolbox is emotional IQ. This valuable skill can help you read your passenger and use that information to navigate the rest of the trip from a social perspective.

Having a pronounced level of emotional IQ can keep you safe on the road.

Being able to gauge your passengers based on their behavior can help you get out of a dangerous situation. Signs of a threatening passenger include inappropriate language, aggressive behavior, and uncomfortable advances.

Trust your instincts.

If you start to notice any of these things or if you start feeling uncomfortable at any point, cancel the ride. Endangering your life for money is not worth it, especially considering you can get other safer ride requests.  But always be careful about how you end the ride. If you do so too abruptly or rudely, it could cause the passenger to become even more aggressive or violent.

Drivers should use their best judgment when dealing with dangerous situations and not hesitate to call the police if needed.

Pay Attention to Passenger Ratings

Uber tries to make the rideshare experience safe for everyone. One tool they use is the rating system. Uber had the passenger rating system in place from the very beginning, yet, passengers couldn’t see their rating until recently.

By allowing passengers to see their rating, Uber increased passenger accountability and made it more probable that riders would maintain good behavior on all their trips.

The rating system helps make it possible for drivers to avoid dangerous passengers. Now, drivers can check to see if a rider has a poor rating and deny that ride request.

Related: 5 Examples of When You Should Give a Bad Passenger Rating

Rest assured, Uber takes their rating system seriously. Drivers must be honest about the rating they are issuing to riders. If the person who left your vehicle was rude, obnoxious, aggressive, disrespectful, or made you feel uncomfortable, report it.

You can let Uber know what the rider was like through the rating system. You can add a comment when you give a low rating. However, other drivers cannot see your comments. The best you can do to warn other drivers is to give the passenger a low rating. When that same passenger then tries to call another Uber, the next driver will see the low rating and have to decide whether or not to accept the call.

If the passenger was exceptionally bad, call the Critical Response line. This could prevent something bad happening to you are another driver in the future.

Your low rating will act as a warning to other drivers, although they won’t know for sure why the passenger has a low rating. But it’s very important that you rate bad passengers honestly. By doing so, you help the rideshare community stay safe.

Choose Your Drive Time and Location Wisely

Some areas are unsafe after dark. These locations experience a high volume of crime once the sun goes down.If you know where these unsafe neighborhoods are, avoid them. Do not put yourself in danger for a few extra rides.

Listen to your intuition every time you drive. If you feel uncomfortable in any situation, there’s a chance it’s for a good reason.

Avoid unsafe neighborhoods and streets. If you feel unsafe driving at night, stick to the safer time frame of 6:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m.

If you don’t feel safe with drunk passengers (which is, very unfortunately, a common concern of female drivers fearing sexual assault), avoid pickups at bars, nightclubs and other general areas where unruly riders could be present.

Always use your best judgment about any particular situation you encounter. Drivers that find themselves driving at night or near locations deemed unsafe should pay extra attention to their surroundings.

No one wants to be in a bad situation. It is stressful and can end up forcing you to end your rideshare career.

Having a solid driver safety plan in place might give you peace of mind. Being ready for anything will make you feel safe and could save your life.

Let Friends and Family Know When You’re Driving

When you are out and about, odds are the rideshare app is going to take you to all kinds of different locations. Telling a friend or family member that you’re driving could give you peace of mind if you’re feeling a little uneasy.

Even so, it is vital for drivers to make it known that they are going to be working. By telling someone that you are going to be driving all around town could help in an emergency situation.

For example, say you are planning to work between 8:00 p.m. to midnight. You let your friends know in a text, or on social media then head out.

Midnight rolls around, and you have not updated anyone. Any of your good friends that are up that late will wonder where you are.

If something tragic has happened that evening to where you are not able to answer your friend, they will likely take action. This act of kindness can save your life and keep you safe. So let someone know when you are planning to work.

One of the best third-party tools that helps keep loved ones informed of your whereabouts is Find My Friends. This useful tool makes it possible for others to keep tabs on you and notify the police if something happens.

Screenshot of the Find my Friends App
Screenshot via Apple Store

Furthermore, get into the habit of checking in throughout your working hours and let your loved ones know when you are home safe.

Since ride-hail driving can take you almost anywhere and because you never know where you’re going to end up, another good idea is to share your location with a friend or family member.

Google Maps has a feature where you can share your location “live” with anyone you choose.  By enabling this feature when you drive, if anything were to happen to you, the person you shared your location with would know where you were last seen.

Facebook also lets you share your location “live” for up to 60 minutes at a time.

If you want to be absolutely as safe as possible, there are apps that let people you trust, access the camera on your phone or other devices so they can actually see you.

If you share your live location with someone, that’s great in the event something bad happens – at least they’ll be able to find you.  But broadcasting your live location can’t set off alarm bells if something bad happens. The person you share your location with will have no way of knowing that something bad is about to happen simply by seeing your location.

However, if you use an app where they can tune into your camera and watch and hear you anytime they might become concerned, then they can see immediately if you’re okay.  TrackView is a very good app for this.  But only use it with someone you totally trust!  Like a spouse, family member or close friend. Because they will be able to see where you are at all times and they’ll be able to look in on you through the camera at any time.

Consider a Dash Cam

One way you can make sure passengers are held accountable for their actions is by installing a dashcam in your car.

A dash cam can protect you in the case of an accident outside of your vehicle. For instance, if someone runs out in from of your car and claims you ran a red light, the dash cam will be solid evidence to support your claim.

A dash cam can also protect you against things inside of your vehicle. We’ve heard stories of passengers claiming the driver attacked them. Fortuntately, the driver had a camera and was able to prove that was not the case.

Unfortunately, although they are extremely rare, uncommon as they are, rideshare assaults do happen sometimes. Although steps are being taken to reduce these occurrences, it is in a driver’s best interest to look out for themselves and others in the community.  And one of the ways you can look out for other drivers is by leaving honest low star ratings when they are warranted.

Take the time to rate your passengers accurately.  And do not hesitate to leave a low-rating if it’s warranted. By providing this type of feedback, drivers can work together to weed out bad riders.

Our goal isn’t to scare you, but to help you feel secure while driving. Having said that, take the time to create a plan so you’re prepared for anything.

Decide the best course of action to take. Discuss this plan with close friends and family and alert them when you’re driving.

Once you have these plans in mind, adhere to the other tips we described. When your rider gets into your car, take note of what they are doing.

Take note of what kinds of behavior are they demonstrating, how are they speaking to you, etc.

Learn to interpret this information and develop your emotional IQ. Odds are if the rider you picked up has a high rating they are less likely to try anything dangerous. But that’s not always a guarantee.  No matter how high a passenger’s ratings are you should still always be on your guard.

Also, if you get a passenger who has a perfect 5.0 rating – be especially on your guard. Because a 5.0 rating is like having no rating at all. It tells you absolutely nothing.

Furthermore, stay in contact with a buddy while you are working. Get into the habit of announcing when you are heading out and when you expect to return home. Then, let others know you made it back.

This simple task may very well help others alert the police on your behalf if you are in danger.

Never risk your safety for a few extra dollars. Avoid going into areas that are well-known for crime, if at all possible.

Go over the tips we have described in this article until they become second nature. It could be a matter of saving yourself from a hazardous situation.

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