Uber Safety – Top 10 Safety Tips for Uber Drivers
Regardless of your occupation, safety should always be your number one priority.
Of course, work-related accidents happen, but especially in relation to the transportation and rideshare industries, it’s always worth asking…are drivers at risk?
Although Uber drivers are not technically taxi drivers or commercial chauffeurs, they are nevertheless exposed to many of the same risk factors. When you work with the general public (especially strangers; or individuals who have been out drinking) there are many unexpected (and dangerous) situations that can occur.
If you are currently driving for Uber (or any other rideshare service), here’s a quick guide on how to stay safe.
Stay Safe with These Top 10 Uber Safety Tips
Uber is unique in that drivers are not employees — they’re independent contractors. You often hear of incidents in the media instigated by drivers…but what about potentially dangerous passengers?
When drivers sign up to work ‘for’ Uber, they undergo an extensive background check.
When passengers sign up, however…they undergo no background screening. Although Uber’s embedded rating system is always in place (helping track the behavior of drivers, and passengers), does the company’s rating system itself really help ensure the safety of Uber drivers?
Uber Safety Features
Here are some of the ways Uber helps keep their drivers safe, as stated on their website:
- No anonymous pickups
- GPS data is logged for each trip so that the in-app navigation system can locate drivers
- Cash isn’t used, which reduces a driver’s risk of theft
- A feedback system is in place, to ensure that passengers who violate Uber’s terms of service are not able to use the service in the future
It’s true that all these precautions are substantive and reassuring…but even with Uber’s baseline safety precautions in place, incidents can and do occur.
Taking Uber Safety into your Own Hands
If you’re an Uber driver, you need to ask yourself: what is it that I can do personally to protect myself?
Here are some tips:
Be vigilant: You need to always be aware of your surroundings and be on ‘high alert’, especially when you’re in an isolated or new environment (or are working at a high-risk time of day). Pay attention to passing comments and even body language — if at any time you feel unsafe, you always have the right to cancel a ride.
Never get aggressive: In some cases, a rider may be extremely disrespectful or even become aggressive. In such an event, it’s important to stay calm, and to never retaliate — especially if the passenger has been drinking (or taking other substances), as their behavior could be highly erratic and unpredictable.
Don’t resist: Although Uber is a non-cash service, that doesn’t ensure (unfortunately) that a passenger or stranger may not try and rob you. In some cases, individuals may attempt to steal a cell phone, or rob any jewelry a driver may be wearing. Whatever the circumstance, never resist — give aggressors what they want and then immediately call the police, reporting any information that you can recall about the event.
Learn self-defense: Although beneficial for all drivers, this is especially recommended for female drivers. You never know when you may be in a truly dangerous situation, so be proactive. Enrolling in a local self-defense class (or learning some free tips online, such as from DIY-info sources like YouTube), may seem a bit ‘over-the-top’….but if you ever find yourself in precarious circumstances, self-defense classes could save your life.
Install a camera: This is ideal for both activity happening inside your vehicle as well as outside. If an accident occurs, it’s best to have the related footage on camera, in case you need to provide it to your insurance company. Just be aware that some states require that you disclose the presence of any interior-facing dashcams to riders.
Maintain your vehicle: Safety checks on your vehicle are important. Have you got your oil changed recently? Are your lights and brakes in working order? If you notice that anything is abnormal with your vehicle, it’s critical that you have it looked at by a professional mechanic.
Carry non-lethal weapons: Only to be used in the worst possible case scenario, it’s worth considering whether it makes sense to carry pepper spray (or even a stun gun). Once again, video footage is ideal to have if you ever find yourself needing to use non-lethal weaponry (*because you will likely need to demonstrate to police how circumstances mandated the use of such weapons).
Pay attention to a passenger’s rating: Uber’s passenger rating system is in place for a reason. If you notice that a passenger is less than a 3-star rider, it’s worth remembering: you have the option to simply not pick them up. Why knowingly pick up a passenger who has potentially mistreated drivers in the past? It’s probably not worth the risk!
Drive during the safest times: Driving during daytime hours is generally considered much less dangerous by experienced Uber drivers — not only because it’s light outside, but also because drivers deal with fewer intoxicated individuals. The area you drive & seek fares can also influence your safety, so choose your time (and locations) wisely. Check local news and crime databases for statistics about your particular region, and always do your best to steer clear of any crime-ridden areas.
Check-in: Passengers are often told to check-in with a friend or family member, but this advice does not exclude drivers. Let someone know how your shift has been; the vicinity you plan to be driving in; and when and where you expect to finish your shift.
Like anything in life, it’s always best to take a proactive approach. Stay cautious, vigilant, drive safe, and always steer clear of any situations you deem to be dangerous or potentially risky. No trip fare is worth jeopardizing your safety!