Uber driver shares essential tips and tricks

Ferrying passengers around the streets of Hollywood as a rideshare driver seems like my idea of hell. But Tony Pierce says it's not all bad. In his essay, "Tips and Tricks from an Uber Driver," Pierce shares a decade's worth of experience as an Uber and Lyft driver. Pierce's account, published as part of the Zócalo/The James Irvine Foundation's series on low-wage work in California, exposes the highs and lows of gig economy driving, and provides useful survival tips for fellow drivers.

Pierce's advice ranges from practical — like keeping your vehicle stocked with essentials and maintaining a half-full gas tank — to the strategic, such as avoiding pickups at bars.

From the essay:

Store a towel, barf bags, and a warm jacket in your clean trunk. Keep your gas tank at least half full, because you never know when someone might want to go far, quickly, in an offer you can't refuse.

In over 8,000 trips I've driven, I've only had to stop for gas once. It wasn't just embarrassing because it made me look unprofessional in front of the passenger. I learned that if you stop the car for more than a few minutes, Uber will call and text both you and your passenger to make sure neither of you are being assaulted. That's well-intentioned, but annoying for everyone.

Avoid picking up people at bars or big parties. One of the worst things that can happen is that a drunk passenger gets sick. There are plenty of folks who need rides in your city and more than enough drivers. Choose wisely. If they come stumbling down the driveway needing assistance to stand upright, do not feel guilty jetting off before they get too close to the car.

Have a dash cam. Sometimes driving is wonderful and funny, but sometimes it's scary and unsafe. Yes, these companies know where you and your passenger are, but in the heat of the moment you are nevertheless alone. Even if the dash cam only has a minute of video and audio, it will help if you need evidence that you did nothing wrong.

Pierce's article is more than just a how-to guide; he also discusses the lack of support from Uber and Lyft for their drivers, pointing out the companies' focus on replacing human labor with automation.

Despite these challenges, Pierce finds solace in the freedom and human connections that being a rideshare driver offers, from the ability to work on one's own schedule to the unique stories shared by passengers from around the world.

See also: Uber and Lyft to pay $328 million for stealing from their drivers

[Via The Browser]