Last Updated on: October 24th, 2015
The number one worry of drivers within the ridesharing or ride-hailing sphere is the hazards the job presents.
Rightfully so, while danger is everywhere around us– oftentimes what we’re doing or where we are, places us in a more precarious situation than other times. One thing to realize is that your passenger is equally as concerned as you when it comes to safety. But that’s for another post. Let’s focus on the driver’s safety here.
**According to the U.S. Department of Labor, taxi drivers are more likely to die from homicide than from a transportation accident. Furthermore, taxi drivers has the highest number of deaths due to violence or homicide– 17.85 fatalities per 100,000 to be exact, making it the most dangerous occupation in America in terms of casualty due to violence. (Police Officers come in second with 15.96 fatalities per 100k.)
All right, now that the gloomy foreboding is disclosed, let’s move on. The good news is, we are NOT taxi drivers. The bad news is… sorry there’s more.
We do operate similar to taxis wherein the transportation network company (TNC) we are connected with (our dispatchers) pair us with a passenger in need of a ride. We go, pick up the passenger and drop them off to their destination. Therefore, the dangers of the industry is very real for the following reasons:
- We work alone.
- We deal with strangers.
- Most of us take the nightshift and cater to the night crawlers.
- Most of us work for longer hours– 12 to 16 hour shifts.
- Our work could take us to secluded, off beaten tracks.
- Racism whether we admit it or not, is a consideration.
The other good news is, the ridesharing platform as a matter of fact, offers bigger safety advantages to its drivers than what traditonal taxis can offer. For one, ridesharing is a cashless transaction so the risk of robbery is almost nonexistent. Second, all passengers are required to key in their credit card or paypal information before they are allowed to ride. When a ride goes haywire, Lyft or Uber can easily pinpoint and identify the driver and the passenger in question. There is accountability all around.
What can drivers do then to keep themselves away from possible threats? Above everything else, presence of mind and perusing one’s common sense is crucial. We can not empashize enough that understanding and following basic safety guide can vitally save you from becoming a victim and even save your life.
- Carry a Mace, Pepper spray, a pocket knife, any self defense gadgets. Make sure you know how to use them! Also, check with your own state and city whether or not it is legal to carry such items on your person or in your car.
- Know the vital trigger points in self defense. Doesn’t matter whether you are 90 or 200lbs. The principle works in all body types when you hit the right spots. Critical areas: eyes, nose, ears (eardrums in particular), throat, knee and groin. See video below for more.
- Keep your doors locked until you’re sure you have the right passenger/s. Upon drop off, lock your doors before doing anything else.
- Invest in a dashcam that records and stores data. Works for everything: accidents, insurance claims, bad behaviors from riders, sexual harrassment allegations, police encounters. Please check the legal guidelines of recording someone in your city/state. In most cases, you need to tell them that the entire ride is being recorded if audio is used.
- Beware! Be aware! Be alert! Do not underestimate anybody. Make eye contact with your passenger at the outset. You can achieve this as they are entering your vehicle by looking at them directly as you greet them. In so doing, you infer that you “see” them and that they see you. You can ‘identify’ each other. Gives you a chance to quickly assess them and remember any identifiable feature about them. When you don’t, it sends off a message that you are oblivious and do not care.
- Do not give TMI – or too much information and don’t flaunt your wealth. Dress down. Don’t wear your expensive jewelries. Don’t brag how you made 20 trips already and that people were giving you exorbitant tips (in cash!). Most passengers mean well, they understand it is hard work and wish you make good money from driving people. Nonetheless, they may be sizing you up for larceny. Don’t be gullible. My lines are usually: “I am not from this area.” “I just started my shift, you’re actually my first passenger!” “It’s been pretty slow.” “I’ve been idle for almost an hour, you’re my first ride.” Chances are, your passengers may even empathize with you. You’ll know, when you check your tips later (for Lyft drivers).
- Do not engage in arguments with your passenger. Avoid heated issues such as politics, religion and race. Do not insult or provoke in any way. The person could be carrying a weapon and snap.
- Trust your instincts. It is right 99% of the time. If your gut tells you something, listen and follow it.
- Wear comfortable clothing, especially wear athletic shoes like sneakers or running shoes.
- Do not work outrageously extended hours. Take care of yourself. Be physically fit. You are NOT a machine. You need rest, food and water. Fatigue and sleepiness endangers not only your passenger but you as well.
Disclaimer: We are not experts. This post is based on collective experiences and research. We encourage you to do your own research and excercise your own judgment. We are not lawyers and doctors. Please use/apply at your own risk.
**Data Source: Bloomberg . Statistics from 2007-2013, released in April 2015.
Essential Self-defense, Vital Point Striking: