What Every Woman Should Know About Rideshare

It’s only been during the past five years that it’s become socially acceptable to invite total strangers into your car and drive them around.

Ping! There it goes again. That lovely phone notification sound. Looks like you’ve got yourself a ride request on tap. But hold on there, lady. Before you go ahead and accept the ride, here’s what every woman should know about driving rideshare.

Strangers in my car? Yes, please!

As you may have guessed, rideshare is a fairly recent phenomenon. For the last hundred years or so, the on-demand ground transportation game was run by the taxi company giants. Driving passengers to their destination was only reserved for licensed taxi drivers AND there was no app to magically hail a ride.

It’s only been during the past five years that it’s become socially acceptable to invite total strangers into your car and drive them around. 

If you would have asked me back in 2002 to get into a stranger’s car to take me to the airport, or across town to a restaurant, I probably would have said, “no way, that sounds crazy.”

But here we are, 17 years later, and I don’t even give it a second thought. You probably don’t either.

Nowadays, this once closed off network of full time taxi drivers has given way to the masses. Now, anyone with a clean DMV, background check and satisfactory vehicle can perform “rideshare services.” 

These headlines won’t let up

When you read headlines like, Rape, assault allegations mount against Lyft, Lyft Passenger Caught on Video Assaulting Driver Inside Moving Vehicle and Passengers Attack Uber Driver After Refusing their Ride, it’s easy to see why women drivers, in particular, have a tough time overcoming their fear of “what if something goes wrong during a ride?” 

A girl’s just trying to make some extra money. Hold the murder and sexual abuse please, thanks.

What’s changed?

Think about this for a minute. Taxi cabs are designed with a physical divider that separates the passenger from the driver, should anything go awry. Taxi cabs are also part of a company owned fleet that has installed GPS tracking on each vehicle so that it can’t go “off the grid” or disappear. A taxi dispatcher knows where their fleet is located at all times.

This isn’t necessarily the case with rideshare.

First of all, you’re driving your own car or possibly a rental, when you drive rideshare (thanks Captain Obvious) and your personal car is not part of a company owned fleet. If you’re renting a car for rideshare, your vehicle is probably part of a company owned fleet and has GPS tracking installed on it, but the vast majority of drivers are using their own, non-trackable, vehicles. Plus, I highly doubt that your 2015 Toyota Prius has a physical divider between the front and back seats. If it does, please send me a picture immediately.

What Every Woman Should Know About Rideshare

The point is that there is NOTHING physically separating you from the passenger when you’re driving rideshare. And when you have strangers getting into your car, this may have crossed your mind once or twice.

So what gives?

Drivers are not the only ones slinging the bad reviews. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that both men and women passengers are continuously filing complaints about unsafe rideshare rides and even bodily harm or abuse. But passenger safety is a whole ‘nother can of gnarly worms, so I’ll shelve that topic for another day.

Today, I’m staying laser focused on safety for women rideshare drivers. This is a topic that should be talked about again and again as long as rideshare companies continue to exist.

Even though the following safety tips can be considered “gender neutral,” my hope is that WOMEN, in particular, consider the following advice before hitting the road. It’s not lost on me that as women we sometimes tend to find ourselves in vulnerable and precarious situations, so little extra care and attention should be paid.

Here’s what every woman should know about rideshare.

Every woman should know that common sense trumps extra cash

Mama didn’t raise no fool, and she certainly doesn’t want you to do anything stupid. So yea, I’m about to preach to you right now about common sense because common sense ain’t so common these days.

1.) Know Your City

Don’t give rides in sketchy areas. Period. This is arguably the number one thing that every woman should know about driving rideshare, preferably before starting RIDE ONE. First, make a conscience decision as to which neighborhoods are an absolute deal breaker for you. Then, make a mental note of the places that you do not feel comfortable either picking up or dropping off passengers. And finally, stick to it!

2.) The “Acceptance Rating” Is Not Worth It

Sometimes your rideshare app will ask you to take a ride to a destination that may be on your “sketchy list” after you’ve already accepted the ride. Usually, drivers will take the ride anyway because they don’t want their acceptance rating to go down or lose out on a ride streak. But again, use your best judgement here. You are not an employee of Uber or Lyft and you’re not required to drive somewhere that makes you feel uneasy. So the next time you encounter this situation, pause and think for a second. Weigh the pro’s and con’s then proceed or cancel the ride.

3.) Know When to Quit

Every woman should know this one thing about driving rideshare. Late night hours can be a seductive temptress. Remember this and it will serve you well. Yes, it’s fact that there’s usually more money to be made during the wee hours of the morning, especially on Friday and Saturday nights. However, this is also the time when things can get a little hairy. For example, drunken passenger behavior dramatically spikes between 11:00 pm and 3:00 am. So, if you’re driving during these times it’s likely that you’ll have to deal with some shenanigans. As a rule, stick to the quitting time limits that you’ve set for yourself at the beginning of your shift. If the bar crowd makes you feel uncomfortable in any way, don’t give rides during late night hours.

4.) Stay In Control

If there’s a situation unfolding (in your backseat) that’s making your spidey senses tingle, you absolutely have the right to ask the passenger(s) to exit. It’s your right to feel comfortable with everything that’s happening IN YOUR CAR. Therefore, it’s not unreasonable to ask passengers to respect this and conduct themselves accordingly.

5.) Trust your gut, it’s usually right

Lastly, what if your common sense is on point, you’re vigilant about safety and something still goes wrong during a ride? Here’s a list of safety resources from the most popular rideshare companies that you can use if you feel unsafe or threatened in any way:

  • Uber
  • Lyft
  • Juno – actually doesn’t have a safety page on their website. Instead, Juno has lines available for support 24/7. You can reach them at 1-844-JUNO-USA any time to get in touch with their support team to report an incident.
  • Via

Every woman should know that the odds are in your favor

By the way, it’s important to note that the VAST majority of rides that happen in the US go off without a hitch. Interestingly, Bankrate has published a rideshare safety guide that outlines what riders and drivers can do to mitigate their risk and get to their destination smoothly.

According to some of the most seasoned rideshare drivers in the industry, passengers are generally well behaved and rides are incident-free. Although there are some definite inherent risks associated with the nature of rideshare driving, you can rest assured that rideshare is a pretty safe side gig to pursue. Just know that it never hurts to be cautious and mindful of your surroundings. Make your Mama proud with all that common sense you’re using.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic! What are your personal “rules” that you abide by to make sure you stay safe on the road? Send me a comment below!

Also, if you found this post helpful, send this along to your best friend, sister, aunt, mom or daughter before they turn on their rideshare app. Thanks, girl.

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