Unaccompanied minors in your car, what you need to know!

Being a rideshare driver comes with many hazards like drunk drivers and riders, car crashes and more. One hazard not often mentioned is unaccompanied minors requesting a ride.  

Neither Uber or Lyft permit minors to ride alone. Below are the policies for both.

Uber says, “A rider must be at least 18 years of age to have an Uber account and request rides. Anyone under 18 must be accompanied by someone 18 years of age or older on any ride.” Uber also says. “As a driver-partner, you should decline the ride request if you believe the person requesting the ride is under 18. When picking up riders, if you feel they are underage, you may request they provide a driver’s license or ID card for confirmation. If a rider is underage, please do not start the trip or allow them to ride.”

Whereas Lyft says, “Unaccompanied minors are prohibited from traveling with most carriers, including TNCs. A passenger must be 18 to sign up for a Lyft account, but if a driver believes a passenger might be underage, the driver may ask the passenger to confirm their age.” Lyft also adds, “The driver may also let a passenger know that the driver will have to cancel the trip if the passenger is indeed under 18. In addition, drivers can report requests to transport unaccompanied minors by tapping ‘Contact Support’ below.”

If it is obvious that the passenger(s) who you are about to pick up are minors, you should definitely cancel. Do not hesitate to ask for an id if you are unsure but do it in a friendly manner. I like to say, “You guys look pretty young, who has an id to show me they are at least 18? This is for your protection as well as mine.” 

Since you are the adult, it is up to you to verify their age. When in doubt it is best to cancel!

Rideshare drivers, protecting yourself after a car crash

For rideshare drivers, your car is your money maker. Getting into an accident –  whether you are at fault or not – is traumatic and costly. The moments following the accident are extremely important in protecting yourself, determining fault, and providing speedy return to the road. But what exactly should you do?

The very first thing is to make sure everyone is okay and no one requires immediate medical attention. If someone is injured, call 911. Furthermore, you will need to let Uber or Lyft know about the accident through the app but this does not need to happen right away.

According to the law firm Ury and Moskow, LLC., there are 10 steps to follow:

  1. Do not drive away, but do drive out of the flow of traffic if possible.
  2. Protect the scene – flares and hazard lights if you have them.
  3. Call the police – whether there are serious injuries or not.
  4. Make an accurate record of what happened, whether it is with the officer or on your own.
  5. Take a lot of pictures or video of the damage and the accident location from multiple directions
  6. Exchange information. This should include taking a photo of driver’s license, car insurance details, and contact information for all drivers, passengers as well as any witnesses. 
  7. Promptly report the accident to your insurance company.
  8. Seek medical attention even if your injuries aren’t apparent.
  9. Keep excellent records of the event.
  10. Contact an attorney as needed.

Generally speaking, you do not want to accept fault or place blame while at the scene and when everyone is still reeling from the incident. Fault should be determined after examining the evidence (videos, photographs, maps of location, etc), when you’ve had time to really understand exactly what happened. Generally the police or your insurance company will make the final decision.

5 great tips for car care in the summer

Keeping our cars in top shape is important year-round. However, when it comes to summertime there are some specific considerations to take into account.

The Automotive Training Center suggests the following

  1. Keep your engine cool – keeping an eye on coolant levels under the hood is important. Make sure that you check and top off coolant levels every few weeks.
  2. Have the AC unit inspected – An AC system that’s on its way out won’t last through the heat of the summer. It pays to get it inspected by a certified technician to remain cool throughout the summer.
  3. Replace your windshield wipes – Summer thunderstorms are known for their rain-dumping nature. Switch out your wiper blades for a new set, especially if the same pair has already served you for several seasons.
  4. Change your oil more frequently – If you are spending long hours driving, or just tend to drive shorter trips more often in the summer, your oil change frequency needs to adjust accordingly. During summer travel, follow your manual’s summertime maintenance schedule for your car which can be found inside its owner’s manual.
  5. Check your tires – As temperatures climb into the 80s and 90s, your tires are at a higher risk for a blowout. This makes monitoring pressure levels paramount. Using your vehicle’s onboard monitoring system is great, but you also want to use a manual gauge to check the pressure at least once a month during hotter weather.

Following these tips will not only help to keep your car running without issue through these hot months and make you feel more confident while driving.

A rideshare car can be a petri dish

The Pandemic has taught us all so much.  It is now more important than ever that we not just clean but also disinfect cars. This will go a long way in protecting ourselves and our riders. 

But how can you know what is the right product for each surface inside your car? In a previous blog post, we shared information on how to clean interior surfaces. Gridwise also discusses and goes over the steps of disinfecting your car on the outside. One of the most important things to remember, using disinfectants like Clorox wipes on your car’s display screen is a no-no. These kinds of wipes can permanently damage the screen surfaces over time.

We suggest buying the right products for each surface, but this can get expensive. Doing so can help maintain the value of your car. Remember, that any products you buy as a rideshare driver for car maintenance are tax-deductible. Save those receipts!

 

Should Rideshare drivers take a defensive driving course now?

For most rideshare drivers, it’s been quite some time since we’ve picked up a driving book from the DMV. Right now could be the best time to brush up on our driving skills. With many drivers thinking about returning to rideshare, doing a DF course now would be a smart move. Whether you plan on returning to rideshare full time, part-time or not at all, taking a defensive driving course is something we can do for ourselves and our families.  

DF courses have been around for a long time but now there are more choices than ever, thanks to virtual learning. AAA offers an online option that can be completed in just 6 hours from a certified instructor. In many areas, they offer in-person classes if you are a AAA member. Be sure to check with your local office for further details.  

Taking one of these courses can remind you of some of those important laws we may have forgotten. They also include tips on how to handle road rage, drowsy driving, and more. Quite often your insurance carrier will provide a discount on your premiums for completing such a course. While carriers like Geico have their own courses available. In some states, carriers are even required to give you discounts for doing so. 

No matter who your carrier is, it is worth the time to inquire with your insurance company and complete a course. It will improve your knowledge and make you a safer driver and potentially save you mon

Car wash options – what’s best for you?

Keeping your car cleaned both inside and out is an important part of being a Rideshare Driver. Riders notice a clean car. However, they also notice a dirty car, and worse yet, they’ll let you know with a bad rating and no tip.

Doing your own car washes is always the most economical for those with access and the energy to do so. Unfortunately, many drivers live in urban areas without access to a hose or a power outlet for a vacuum. 

Filling up your car at a gas station and adding on a car wash can be the most convenient option. The problem is gas station car washes are often low quality. Over time, this option can dull your car’s clear coat finish and decrease your car’s resale value. 

Taking your car to a dedicated car wash location is more expensive but often provides a better result. These locations offer two types: cloth, and touch-less. I prefer a touch-less wash because it simply uses the power of water and soap to clean my car and nothing else. Howstuffworks does a great job explaining the difference between these two and how these systems work. Try searching for a location that offers a monthly fee for unlimited cleaning inside and out. I found my spot by Googling touch-less car washes and then reading their reviews.

The final option is a mobile car wash service. This is the most expensive option with prices starting at $49.00 per wash or more. They bring everything – including the water – making it very convenient. These companies often do oil changes for an additional fee so this may be the perfect option for you.

Remember that whichever method you choose, the costs are all tax-deductible. Make sure you save your receipts and keep good records.

Whether you are bathing yourself or your car, clean just feels good!

Is it time for a brake job?

Keeping your car in top shape is an important part of being a rideshare driver. For the safety of ourselves and our riders, having good brakes is essential. This is especially true when you consider all of the heavy driving we do. 

So how can you tell when it is time for a brake job, what are the signs? Your tire maintenance shop will typically look at your brake pads when rotating the tires. They usually give you an estimate on their remaining life. The site Your Mechanic says that you should replace your pads every 50,000 miles. However, this can vary based on your vehicle and your driving habits. Anytime your brakes start making a squealing or scraping noise you need to have them checked right away. Brake pads have small metal hairs at the very bottom to let you know when they are wearing out. If you have your car’s tires rotated every 6,000 to 8,000 miles(which is recommended), ask the shop to check the brakes while they are conducting their service.

The cost per axle is around $250 but the cost can vary based on vehicle type and pad choice. Putting off a brake job can be expensive. Failing to replace your pads can do damage to the car’s rotors. The rotors are what the pads press against to slow you down or bring your car to a stop. The average price for both brakes and rotors is between $400 and $550 per axle, so roughly twice the cost of a brake job alone. That is an unnecessary expense that no one wants.

Staying on top of your car’s maintenance is truly a way to save money. Furthermore, it gives you the added benefit of peace of mind.

Why people tip rideshare drivers

If you are driving for a rideshare company you are likely doing it to make money and not as a hobby. One way to boost your income is through tips. I belong to several rideshare groups. I often read how frustrated drivers are with their riders and rideshare companies. They often feel that the payment they receive per ride does not warrant any kind of service above the bare bone basics.

PBS has an article about why people tip, and the size of a restaurant bill is the number one way to affect how much of a tip someone will leave. Rideshare drivers have no influence over the size of the bill so what can we do?

I believe that if we are just doing the bare bone basics, we are making a critical mistake. Providing excellent customer service is the reason people tip. However, not everyone tips all the time so tipping is not guaranteed. We, as drivers, need to accept that fact. People tip based on how the driver makes them feel! A rider who had a great experience equals a potential tip! But if you provide just the basics, the payment will be basic as well – no tip. (Of course, giving the rider a bad experience will guarantee no tip, and may be costly to your rating.)

If service contributes to the size of tips, then we can think of it as a numbers game. By consistently providing great service, you will consistently get more tips.

Gig workers need benefits

Working in the gig economy means you do not have a boss hanging over your shoulder. You have a tremendous amount of freedom, which is great. You work whenever you want, which is usually what draws people to rideshare and food delivery to name a few. However, you do give up a lot especially when it comes to benefits! 

It does not appear that companies like Lyft and Uber will be offering everyone a great benefits package anytime soon. So, are there any benefit options available for people like us?

Recently, I discovered a new company that is offering help to gig workers for a monthly charge. The company is called Kover and I have no affiliation with them but I do find that what they offer could be helpful to many. Their quoting system is based on your data that comes directly from Uber, Lyft, Amazon Flex, Instacart, Postmates, Shipt, and others. Their services include things like sick leave, health insurance, help with deactivation, record keeping, and more. One of the most interesting benefits is income replacement if you are temporarily deactivated from an app. All in all, I believe it is worth your time to check them out!

Being prepared for unexpected events in life can bring all of us some peace of mind.

Summer is coming, consider tinting your windows?

Many new cars now come with tinted windows, especially luxury models. However, if your car didn’t come  that way,  you can always choose to add this feature

Outside of giving your car an enhanced aesthetic appeal, there are other benefits to tinting. According to Ultimate Window Tinting, it can help protect you and your car’s interior from UV rays from the sun. It can also darken your vehicle to hide valuables, and help to prevent glass from shattering in an accident or break-in. Angieslist.com says the cost for this upgrade can range from $99 to $400 depending on what you choose.

When choosing a film, you first have to consider the percentage of VLT or visual light transmission. How dark you can go will vary from state to state.  AAA is a great resource to figure this out. Be sure you do your homework to prevent an unwanted ticket.

Once you have decided how dark to go, your next step is to choose a film type. Ultimate Window Tinting lists the following options:

Infrared film tinting – Infrared films are long-lasting, and block about the same amount of UV rays as other tinting treatments do. One advantage of infrared tinting is its high visibility level. This is a great fit for states with strict tinting laws.

Metallic film tinting – This tinting treatment can make your car’s exterior look sleek and shiny. One major drawback to this option is that it tends to block wireless signals. This means you or your passengers may not be able to rely as heavily on your smartphone or GPS while driving. We don’t recommend this for rideshare.

Carbon film tinting – Carbon films offer similar advantages to metallic films, but without the problem of signal blockage.

Tinting coats (Not a DIY Option) – Some businesses offer the choice of spraying a coat of tint onto the car windows. This treatment is one of the most durable options; however, it is also one of the most labor-intensive, and can be costly.

If you want to take your car up a notch, this could be the right choice for you!