An increasing number of rideshare drivers, delivery drivers, and community advocates are speaking out about the dangers they face on the job.
Rideshare and delivery drivers face assaults, carjackings, thefts, and even death. Drivers have thus started to band together to make their jobs safer through advocacy groups and by sharing safety tips with one another.
Insider talked to seven current and former rideshare drivers about their best advice for staying safe.
“Always stay calm,” said Dottin, a coalition member of Justice for App Workers in New York City. “If you feel like you’re in a dangerous situation, the worst thing you can do is escalate it. If you see a rider already coming in aggravated, the best thing to do is stay as calm and level-headed as possible.”
“Always be aware of your surroundings, and always stay around areas that you know,” said Ventura, who’s a member of the Black Car Mafia and a coalition member of Justice for App Workers in New York City. “Don’t get out of your comfort zone.”
“I tell new drivers to always confirm the passenger’s name and to always keep your doors locked until confirmation of the passenger is done,” said Wideman, who’s a full-time activist and coalition member of Justice for App Workers in Long Island, New York.
“Drunk passengers are often a safety issue. Their uncontrolled alcoholic persona can have them grabbing the steering wheel, opening doors while in motion, or attacking the driver. I tell other drivers to not take drunk passengers, especially if they wouldn’t feel safe having them in their car. Many times, when a passenger is drunk and reaches their destination, they don’t want to get out of the car. I tell drivers to not argue with them or physically remove them. Instead, call the cops to come and remove them.
“The most important safety tip is to get a dual dash cam that records inside the vehicle. This covers a driver against false accusations and denials on the part of the passenger.”
“Driving requires a lot of skill,” said Ibradov, who’s a member of UzBER and a coalition member of Justice for App Workers in New York City. “However, the most overlooked skill is the ability to smile and say sorry. Road rage is one of the leading causes of car accidents, and the simple act of letting it go keeps everyone safe.
“Rushing is the leading cause of car accidents. Take your time.”
“If the rating is low, just skip it,” said Burgess, who works in Chicago. “If someone has a low rating, there’s a reason why. Passengers don’t get a low rating because one driver felt bad about their trip.
“I also completely separated the front area of the car from the back area, so no one can reach under it and get to me in any way. I know rideshare drivers that have had their cars carjacked or had a gun put to their head, so I hope the shield is a little bit of a deterrent. I also have a dash camera that records inside and outside of the car, and it uploads video immediately to the cloud, so I can get proof of anything happening immediately on my phone.
“Lastly, stay off your phone when you’re waiting for a passenger, and be aware of your surroundings. Always check behind you. Always look for the customer. If there’s ever a situation where I feel in my gut that something’s not right, I’ll cancel the trip.”
“Try to deescalate a tense situation,” said Malik, who works in New York City. “Talk it out. Take a deep breath, feel your surroundings, and try to understand the problem. Don’t resist. Don’t panic. Try your best to not argue or fight back. Before you start driving, install a heavy plastic partition in between you and the customer.”
“I once was told by a driver that when picking up a passenger, he would take off his seatbelt just in case he had to make a run for it if he was ever in a stickup situation,” said Rivera, who helped found NYC Drivers Unite and is a coalition member of Justice for App Workers in New York City. “After a few blocks, if the driver felt safe, he would put his seatbelt back and continue the trip. I’ve followed that advice.”
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