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5 Ridesharing Horror Stories: The Driver Edition

posted by Chris Valentine

Driving for a ridesharing service means you’ll encounter a cast of interesting characters as time goes on. If you primarily drive during the early mornings, you might catch the coffee-fueled airport crowd. If you drive at night, you’re likely no stranger to members of the rowdy bar scene who bring the party straight into the back of your car, truck, or SUV. You might be a driver who primarily waits for surges before heading out to pick up passengers. But regardless of the scene or time of day you drive during, all rideshare drivers seem to have at least one horror story to share.

Here are just five flavors of “uh oh” that can accompany a ridesharing job:

Cleanup on Aisle One

To put it politely, if drivers lose their lunch in a ride-sharing vehicle, a hefty cleaning fee ranging between about $50–200 dollars will be tacked onto their charge. Unfortunate drivers may have had the experience of transporting a sick passenger, and the interior of their vehicle pays the price. Notorious culprits are generally passengers on the way home from the bar. It’s a nightmare all around, as drivers may find themselves out of commission for the rest of their shift due to unsanitary conditions. They’ll also have to get their car cleaned before hitting the road. On the flip side, some drivers have tried to exploit this cleaning fee for personal gain by staging a vomit-related incident.

Let’s Get Physical

When Edward Caban climbed into his car to begin his Uber shift, he likely never thought he’d face an attack from a Taco Bell executive. An intoxicated Edward Golden physically assaulted the driver and lost his job as a result. The driver subdued the attacker using pepper spray before calling the authorities. Another viral video showed a doctor causing damage to a rideshare driver’s car—not even her own driver—when he refused to drive her home. These are worst-case scenarios, but rideshare drivers may find themselves becoming the victims of verbal or physical attacks on their bodies or their vehicles.

It Was an Accident

The more time drivers spend out on the road, the higher the likelihood that they’ll be involved in an accident. It could be nothing more than a fender bender in bumper-to-bumper traffic, or it could end up causing extensive damage. Ridesharing companies address the heightened risk by offering different levels of coverage for different stages of the journey. When the app is switched on but there’s no passenger yet, Uber offers third-party liability insurance in accordance with state minimums. During a passenger trip, Uber offers one million dollars in each liability and uninsured motorist injury. Contingent collision and comprehensive coverage is the responsibility of the driver, as is protecting themselves during off-duty hours, so for new rideshare drivers, comparing car insurance rates is a must to avoid coverage gaps in case of an accident.

Lower Fares for Pools

UberPOOL and Lyft Line can save passengers some serious cash, but the sequence of pickups doesn’t always work out in a way that’s profitable for drivers. Some nights are hit or miss, so drivers don’t end up benefitting from concurrent fares. As Motherboard explains, “Drivers say it’s not worth the hassle to pick up two separate riders for a fare that’s usually much less than two entirely separate UberX rides.”

Why the Bad Rating?

As the saying goes: You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink. As a rideshare driver, you can pull out all the stops and try to provide a pleasant experience for passengers, but you can’t control how many stars out of five they assign you. It would be nice to think that rating is subjective and doesn’t matter too much, but it’s one of the defining metrics of any ridesharing career. It can be demoralizing to face deactivation solely based on a handful of passenger ratings, according to one seasoned San Francisco-based driver.

For all the upsides—flexibility, the opportunity to interact with people from all walks of life, the perk of listening to your own tunes—every rideshare driver has at least one horror story from their time on the road. The best thing they can do is take measures to protect themselves and their bank accounts from errant passengers and accidents.

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