Here's What You Need to Know
With the release of Uber’s 2017-2018 safety report, some alarming statistics have made their way to the surface. Most notably, it shows that riders aren’t the only ones being assaulted during trips.
According to the data provided by Uber, a shocking 42 percent of reported sexual assaults were drivers. The increased dangers, especially for the 19% of women who drive for Uber, point out the glaring need to protect its independent contractors.
The Dangers of Commercial Driving
The appeal of driving for a rideshare company is the ability to be your own boss as an independent contractor. However, the downside is the lack of protection you face because you aren’t considered a company employee. While more and more people are diving into the gig economy, how to protect these workers becomes increasingly important.
Of course, it’s not just freelance rideshare drivers who face increased dangers over other occupations. Taxi drivers have always faced physical and sexual assault. But rideshare drivers are at higher risk for a couple of reasons.
- Rideshare drivers have a higher percentage of female drivers, compared to the 1% Yellow Cab drivers that are female based on data provided by Vox.
- There are no safety features for rideshare drivers like taxi drivers. Some cities have regulations in place to keep cab drivers safe, like bulletproof partitions or surveillance cameras, unions, and workers’ compensation insurance.
And again, since rideshare drivers are independent contractors, there are no unions to push for safer driver conditions or protection from work comp insurance. However, Uber is aiming to make things a bit safer for their drivers.
Latin American cities will be the first to pilot this new feature.
In response to the need to protect drivers, Uber has announced it will be piloting a new security feature. The plan is to start audio recording rides amidst rising safety concerns, according to the Washington Post.
Users will be allowed to opt in to activate an audio recording on any or all trips. Drivers can set this feature automatically for all trips, while riders have to enable the feature through the Safety Toolkit, which becomes available before they get into the vehicle. All recordings are placed into the trip history in case they decide to report it later. Drivers and riders will not be able to listen back to the recordings.
According to an Uber exec, “When the trip ends, the user will be asked if everything is okay and be able to report a safety incident and submit the audio recording to Uber with a few taps. ” They also stated, “The encrypted audio file is sent to Uber’s customer support agents who will use it to understand an incident better and take appropriate action. “
Other concerns surrounding this solution would be the need to notify passengers they are being recorded. As you know, you may have a sleeping passenger or an intoxicated rider. How would they know what they are agreeing to? The testing in Mexico and Brazil will be crucial to the success of this initiative.
While there is no firm date when the feature will be tested in the US, company officials say it will be soon.
In the meantime here are some tips to keep yourself and your passengers safe.
Driver Safety Tips
Keeping it cool in stressful situations is key to keeping the peace. Uber recommends using their app to notify them about any unruly passengers. They will review the feedback and take appropriate action, which in some cases can include removing the rider’s access to Uber.
You do have the option to end the ride at any time if you feel your safety is threatened. For Emergencies, call 911 first and then report the incident to Uber or Lyft below.
How to Contact Uber for Emergencies
How to Contact Lyft for Emergencies
Enter your phone number and Lyft’s Safety Team will call you immediately.
Other ways to ensure a safe ride include:
- Focus on your driving. Stay alert, keep your eyes on the road, and avoid texting while driving. Use a mount to position your phone in a place to reduce dangerous distractions. Tired? Take a break and rest, drowsy driving causes accidents.
- Look out for bike riders and pedestrians. When dropping off or picking up, always keep an eye out for those on foot or a bike. This is especially important at night.
- Dropoff legally. Make sure you pay attention to signage alerting you to the proper unloading and loading zones.
- Send them to the back. Asking riders to sit in the back, especially those riding alone, allows them to safely exit from either side of the vehicle to avoid traffic. It also gives you both some space to avoid uncomfortable situations.
- Buckle up for safety. In most states, it is the law to wear your seat belt. Ask your riders to buckle theirs, and don’t forget to fasten yours.
- Tell someone. To create a safer environment for all, be sure to rate your riders, and add comments through the app.
- Use a Dash Cam (See Best Dashcams for Uber & Lyft Drivers.) They provide evidence that can help you if you get in a legal dispute and act as a deterrent, as most people are less likely to misbehave when they know they are being filmed.
Wrapping it Up
Providing a safe environment for your rider and yourself should be your top priority as rideshare driver. Take the appropriate steps to ensure a safe ride for both of you and have a plan for how to handle bad situations before the arise.
This article is for informational purposes only and RideshareGuru.com does not make any guarantees to its accuracy as each state’s insurance situation is unique. We recommend that you contact a licensed insurance agent for the most accurate information regarding your coverage.
Sarah Ware (CISR) holds licenses in Property and Casualty as well as Life and Health insurance and has worked in the insurance industry for over 10 years.