Dividers in your car?

The Coronavirus has changed so many aspects of our lives. We’re all washing our hands more, wearing a mask and staying six feet away from people. But what’s changed in our cars?

Rideshare company policies have both riders and drivers wearing a mask. Furthermore, passengers can only sit in the back seat for now. Getting vaccinated can help protect us but is there more we can do?

Many drivers are planning to or already have installed a partition between the front and back seats. Taking this extra step is a personal decision, but what goes into this process? I’ve done some research and found dividers ranging from plastic shower curtains to perfectly cut plexiglass professionally installed. Amazon has a wide range of products to choose from with price points to match. Here is the link for the one pictured above in this blog and is available from Amazon.

The challenge with Amazon is finding one that will fit your car, looks good, and protects you and your rider from the virus. Furthermore, you want to make sure that the divider won’t become a hazard should you get into an accident. Because each car’s interior design is different, it will be difficult to find one that fits your car through an online purchase. I’m not saying you shouldn’t try, but be prepared to make several purchases and returns.

Of course, Amazon is not the only retailer offering partitions. You can also try companies like Rideshare Safety Partition – they are selling dividers as well and are worth a look.

An alternative to shopping online is to work with a local installer.Try contacting local repair shops that deal with Limo operators. Limousine operators have been ramping up for the return of travelers and have been installing these dividers in their fleet of cars with great success. 

One last thing to remember is that this installation is for your business and is tax write-off so, save your receipts!

Checking the backseat after every trip

Being a rideshare driver can be fun but also exhausting. We do a lot of freeway driving, often in traffic and while working long hours. We try to do our best but sometimes we forget to do things like check the backseat at the end of every trip. It is just a small thing but it can really make a difference for our riders. It can also be a huge time saver for ourselves. 

All too often riders will leave their phone, wallet, umbrella, or other personal belonging in the backseat of your car. If you can check the backseat as they are leaving your car, you can get the item back to them right away. This often pays off with a good rating and sometimes even a tip. Now I would much rather get it to them in the moment than be asked to bring it back to them later – even for a fee. Let’s face it, you make more money taking rides than you do returning items. It really isn’t worth your time.

Furthermore, if you are constantly checking your back seat, you always know the condition of your vehicle. If the rider in your car has damaged it in any way, you will instantly know who did it. You can then get your pictures and file a claim with your rideshare company.

If you do a fair amount of night driving, it is a great idea to make sure you set the interior lights to come on with the opening of a car door. That way any damage will be immediately apparent – especially for that thing we all hate the most, vomit! This happens to almost every one of us, so you want to catch it right away, take pictures and get that cleaning.

Checking the back after each rider really is an example of “an ounce of prevention being worth a pound of cure!”

6 things to look for when buying a dash camera for rideshare

Everyone is talking about dash cameras for their cars, especially rideshare drivers. It is a great way to protect yourself. It can prove you were not at fault in an accident. You can show Uber or Lyft footage of an unruly rider not  wearing a mask or acting inappropriately. It can also provide evidence of your actions if you were pulled over by the police and so much more.

There are so many models out there it can be overwhelming. So what are the features that are a must have us drivers?

Price – DashCam models can start out at $50. and move on up to more than $400.. However, most of the features you may want as a rideshare driver can be found in the $200 range. 

Easy installation – No one wants to read a book or need a computer science degree in order to install your camera in your car and the app on your phone.

Video quality – 720p is pretty standard but you might want to consider 1080p. It allows you to zoom in on a face or license plate. Some models in the upper price range offering 4k but that is more of a luxury than a necessity. 

Parking Mode – We all have to leave our cars unattended from time to time. This mode will automatically start recording the moment it senses a vibration.

Dual Cameras – You also want a model that has a camera facing forward to record any kind of traffic incidents you may encounter and one that is rear facing to catch the activities of an unruly rider. 

Wireless streaming  – This is a nice to have feature because it allows you to view footage from your camera without having to remove a memory card. 

Dash cams can be found at many of the big box stores or online. For this kind of purchase, I prefer Costco because of their excellent return policy, and they never charge a restocking fee! Even though they do require a membership fee, the services they offer make it worth the price.

As more of us return to rideshare, protecting ourselves has never been more important!

Double parking risks and possible solutions

We’ve all done it: you pull up to the pickup location and the rider isn’t there. You are going to have to wait, so you decide to double park hoping they will be there soon.  

Double parking is a common occurrence for rideshare drivers especially in big cities. It’s true that sometimes it seems like there aren’t any other options, and I understand. When this does occur, please use your hazard lights so other drivers know to go around you – but know you may get a ticket. According to Legal Beagle the fine for double parking is $165 in Chicago, $115 in NYC, and $110 in San Francisco. We are talking about a big fine on a fare that may only be $10.00. The rider will not be paying the fine! You made the choice to double park and now you are the one stuck paying the bill.

So what are the options to avoid these fines? Start scanning the block for a spot to pull into near the pickup location before you arrive. If you find one you can text the rider to let them know where you will be waiting. I like to use a business name so the rider will have an easier time finding me. Text the rider with something like, “This is your Uber driver. I am waiting for you in front of the Subway restaurant and I have my hazard lights on.”

Please don’t be that driver who just double parks even through there is a driveway or an open space for you to pull into. We’ve all seen it and it is so frustrating for all the drivers around you. Not only that but other drivers will be laying the horn on as they pass you for blocking traffic. Your rider will wonder why you didn’t just pull into the open spot even if it was just a driveway.  

Let’s all work together and double park as few times as possible. It will help lessen the frustration of driving for everyone.

5 things I wish I knew before becoming a rideshare driver.

Being a rideshare driver means you have to accept a lot of unknowns: where you will be driving to today, how many trips you will have, what kind of tips you will make, what kind of riders you will be picking up, and more. We have to deal with all of these unknowns every day. But what if you were new to rideshare, what things would you have liked to have known before you started driving?

Here are five big things I think every new driver should know where starting out::

  1. Don’t drive around looking for rides – After you have driven for a couple of days, you will quickly learn the busier parts of your city or town. Find a place to park and wait for the app to go off. There’s no need to waste gas and to rack up miles on your car.
  2. Don’t bother waiting for rides at the airport – This is especially true right now because of Covid-19, as there aren’t a lot of rides from the airport. But even when people start traveling again, airport queues for rideshare can be between  30 – 90 minutes. You could have easily made good money during that same time by driving in hotter spots downtown. Too often, airport rideshare lots are just a place where drivers gather to complain about rideshare. They would have less to complain about if they were out working the busy parts of their town or city and making money instead of wasting time in a queue at the airport!!
  3. The secret to high ratings may not be what you think – Too often people who are thinking about becoming a rideshare driver believe that they will be good at it because they have a nice car and they know their way around their city or town. New drivers don’t understand that this is a customer service job. You will be dealing with all kinds of people and you need to be able to read their tone and body language to understand what they want.
  4. Getting your rider to their destination in record time isn’t a rider’s top priority – Yes, most riders want to get to where they are going quickly, but feeling safe in your car is more important than speed!
  5. A clean car doesn’t need air freshener – Riders love a clean car! If you keep your car clean, there is no need for air freshener. People are sensitive to smells like air freshener, and a rider who hates the smell or even gets a headache from your air freshener will likely say nothing to you. Instead, they will jut give you a bad rating. Now, If a rider leaves a bad smell in your car after they leave, just roll your windows down and air out your car before your next trip.

Many drivers may have tips beyond these but these were my top 5 takeaways when I first began to driver.


Where to pee?

Rideshare drivers have always struggled with finding a clean restroom while out on the road. Since the onset of Covid-19 those choices have dwindled dramatically. 

One option is the gas station where you fill up. They often have open restrooms but it is not a guarantee. 

The worst situation is when you have to go and there aren’t any choices at all. I’ve started carrying a product I found on Amazon called Mini Toilet. Its single use only and can be used by both men and women. After use, it zip locks closed and comes with a small garbage bag for disposal. Amazon often runs out of this one so here is another option called Coolrunner Disposal Urine bags and basically works the same. I am sure there are plenty of other similar products out there but these work great!

When this is all over, I hope we can go back to using Starbucks with locations on almost every corner. 

Your car smells like weed because of your last rider, now what?

Photo showing a hand holding a blunt.

Most of us have experienced a rider in our cars smelling of weed. Not only can the smell be unpleasant for us drivers but it can be problematic for our status with Uber. Your next rider may report you to Uber for being under the influence simply because of the smell. This can result in an account suspension and a loss of income. Furthermore, the path to reactivation can involve a lot of time and energy.

So is there anything we can do to prevent this from happening beside not accepting riders who smell of weed?

Windows open – As soon as the rider is out of the car, go offline. Next, spend the next 5 minutes or so driving around with your windows down airing out your car. Doing this right away can help prevent the smell from settling into your car’s upholstery. 

Ozium – People often think that spraying air freshener in your car will fix this problem. However, you may be making things worse! First, you are adding another smell to your car that mixes with the smell of weed, making an even worse smell. Secondly, riders are sensitive to air fresheners and you may be giving a rider a headache and giving yourself a bad rating. Instead, try using an air sanitizer like Ozium. Not only does it kill bacteria in the air like Covid-19 it helps to kill the odor of weed. After spraying the interior, let spray settle in your car for a few minutes. Next drive around for a few minutes again airing out your car with the windows down. Now you are ready again to accept requests.

Following the above suggestions can help you avoid bad ratings and continue driving and making money.

Photo by GRAS GRÜN on Unsplash

New Lyft program – More rides but for less money

Back in September, Lyft began a new program called “Priority Mode”. So far the reviews of the program are not positive.

The program which drivers must opt in, requires them to accept a 10 percent pay reduction in the hopes of getting more rides funneled their way. According to Jalopnik, drivers who do not opt-in see fewer rides.

In a Mashable article, they call the program, “Lyft’s latest innovation in ripping drivers off.”

In a Reddit post, one driver wrote, “Now they’re pitting drivers against each other to see who’ll do the ride for the least amount?” “Can’t imagine the riders are paying less, so Lyft again is cutting their driver’s throat to take a greater cut of the fare! Way to drive away your workforce Lyft!”

In a CNET article, one driver joked and called Priority Mode – Poverty Mode.

With few rides because of Covid-19 and lower rates, it appears that rideshare companies are in a race to the bottom on what they are willing to pay their drivers.

Next week: Rideshare rider requests are up in Asia and South America, is North America


Fewer drivers using their turning signals

As rideshare/delivery drivers, our workday is spent on the road. I know many of you share the same pet peeve I have, people not using the turning signals. 

Using your left or right blinkers is the way we communicate with each other. It is an important component in preventing accidents. In recent years, it feels that fewer people are using them. I decided to search the internet to learn why.

The Huffington Post back in 2014 came up with a list of 7 reasons, some of which include:

  • They are too lazy
  • They want to cut you off
  • They simply forgot

According to AutoGuide, the Society of Automotive Engineers conducted a study that concluded more than 2 million crashes a year are the result of people failing to use their indicators. The study reported that that number was even higher than distracted driving. This should be an eye-opener for all of us.

Even though the above excuses and numbers are a concern, the answer is pretty simple. We need to be respectful of each other and use turning signals. After all, the solution is literally at our fingertips!

Are you driving for the rideshare or delivery app that pays the best?

Whether you drive rideshare or food delivery or both, making money is the end game. The difficult part is determining which option pays the best?

The Los Angeles Times posted an article back in December that discussed this very issue. They suggest that rideshare may be more profitable because so may drivers have switched to delivery.  The result has been more surge pricing being offered in many cities across the country.  

Here is the breakdown for 3 cities in California taken directly from the article:

Los Angeles

  • Average hourly pay: $17.37 for ride-hail; $16.05 for delivery
  • The best-paying app is Uber Eats, which pays 1.22% more than No. 2, Lyft.
  • Lyft pays 0.17% more than Grubhub, which pays 3.06% more than Uber, which pays 2.14% more than Amazon Flex.

San Diego

  • Average hourly pay: $17.56 for ride-hail; $18.07 for delivery
  • The best-paying app is Amazon Flex, which pays 3.69% more than No. 2, Uber Eats.
  • Uber Eats pays 2.61% more than Grubhub, which pays 5.68% more than Lyft, which pays 4.88% more than Postmates.

San Francisco

  • Average hourly pay: $19.48 for ride-hail; $15.97 for delivery
  • The best-paying app is Uber Eats, which pays 3.38% more than No. 2, Grubhub.
  • Grubhub pays 4.6% more than Amazon Flex, which pays 1.8% more than Uber, which pays 5.59% more than Lyft.

What stands out the most from the above numbers is how much pay varies from city to city and then again with each company. In order to figure out which option works best for you, will require you to keep good records of your earnings and then decide for yourself!

Next week: New Lyft program – More rides but for less money,