5 Things I Wish Passengers Knew About Their Drivers

While being a rideshare driver is not for everyone, millions of people are taking advantage of the flexibility it offers and diving right into it. However, on average, after less than a year. over 80% quit – why is that? In this article, senior RSG contributor Sergio Avedian dives into the things he wishes passengers knew about the driver they’re sharing a car with.

I have been a driver as well as a passenger on both the Uber/Lyft platforms for almost five years, so I have a pretty good bird’s eye view of this gig from both ends of the spectrum.

As a driver, you get a request for a ride, and once you accept it, you are on your way to pick up a total stranger. As a passenger, you are about to get into the car of someone you have never met before. This goes against everything we were told as a kid: do not get into the car of a stranger. But somehow an uneasy mutual trust exists, and it is done to the tune of 15 million times globally each day—and that’s just on Uber.

Over the past few years, I have seen pretty much everything there is to see in the backseat of my car—the best and worst side of humanity.

I truly am surprised when I talk to riders how little they know about this gig and the assumptions they make about their driver. It is a once-in-a-lifetime interaction that could last from a few minutes to a couple hours, mostly never to be repeated again.

I have close to 5,000 trips on Uber without ever having given a ride to the same passenger twice. This means I have an opportunity to educate the passenger who has trusted me to take them from point A to point B safely.

Here are a few things that are so obvious to drivers that they are at a loss when they realize riders really don’t have a clue.

5 Things I Wish Passengers Knew About Their Drivers

1) Rideshare drivers don’t make much

A passenger gets in your car. He/she just paid $50 for a 10-mile ride during rush hour, which most likely includes surge pricing. They automatically assume that the driver is getting a major portion of it, to the tune of 80%. Well, we drivers all know that is nothing close to the truth.

These days, it seems like Uber and Lyft charge the riders almost 100% more than pre-pandemic rates and get to hold almost close to 50% of what the passenger paid.

First and foremost, among the things drivers would like riders to know is that they don’t make all that much money from driving. Uber and Lyft are public companies now, and they are both scrambling to be profitable entities.

How can they accomplish this? By raising prices on passengers and cutting bonuses for the drivers. From the hold rates I’ve seen the past few weeks, they may be well on their way.

In a 2018 driver earnings survey, it was discovered that Uber riders leave an average tip of just 7%. That’s just for the riders who actually leave tips. 95% of them don’t.

Drivers make less than $1 an hour in tips. This same survey found that more than 50% of drivers earn less than $10 an hour after factoring in their expenses.

2) We hate constantly being asked if we like doing rideshare

Can you imagine if you met two to four new strangers every hour at your job and every one of them asked you how you like working for your company? It would probably drive you crazy after a couple of hours.

Well, rideshare drivers are no different. We don’t like the question either because for us the question puts us in a very precarious position, and it is a landmine ready to explode.

If we say we don’t like it much or if we start complaining about Uber and Lyft, we’ll sound like sour grapes. People will think we’re bitter or worse, angry!

Any kind of negativity like that will potentially lead to lower ratings from riders and no tips. As we all know, most drivers will pretty much do anything to ensure that their rating is as high as possible.

3) We don’t control where we drive

One thing riders have trouble understanding is that each day we have no idea where we’re going to end up. But we do know it will be in places we’ve never been to before or aren’t very familiar with. When I tell the passenger that I don’t know where they are going before they get in the car, they are shocked!

When an Uber/Lyft driver picks up a passenger, they naturally assume that the driver is from that area and should know it like the back of their hand. What they don’t seem to realize is that many of us ended up there because that’s where our last passenger had us drop them off.

We may have never been there before and may never be there again. Oftentimes riders express frustration when we’re not as familiar with the neighborhood as they think we should be.

4) We have to obey the laws of the road just like any other driver

I can’t tell you how many times passengers have gotten in my car and proceeded to request or even demand that I violate some law like making an illegal U turn. Drivers are often put between a rock and a hard place when it comes to the driving laws because there are no cops around to enforce it. There are no Uber/Lyft officials standing nearby to mediate a dispute between a driver and a passenger.

It’s all between the driver and the passenger, but the passenger holds a distinct advantage. If he or she leaves the driver a bad rating, it can seriously jeopardize the driver’s ability to earn a living. The same cannot be said for the passenger if the driver leaves them a bad rating.

It’s a one-way highway and it’s unfair for the drivers. A major overhaul of the rating system is way overdue.

Riders ask drivers to violate a whole variety of laws. For instance, you may pick a group up which has more passengers than seatbelts in your car. You tell them what the maximum number of passengers are allowed in your car and that you can’t take everyone in their group. They’ll try to convince you otherwise with the offer of a large tip.

Or, another very common scenario, the passenger is running late for something very important and they may push you to run red lights or speed up on the highway.

It’s against the law. But this doesn’t stop riders from asking and even begging. And once again, drivers are put into a potentially compromising position because if they say no and hold their ground, they risk getting a bad rating and possibly even getting deactivated by the rideshare giants because of it.

Just because the rider paid a few dollars for a trip, they have no right to treat the driver as their private chauffeur and the car as their limousine.

5) 10 of the Worst Passenger Habits

1. Riders with more passengers than is legal.
2. Inebriated, obnoxious passengers.
3. Backseat drivers.
4. Playing their loud music from their phones.
5. Eating in the car (especially without the courtesy of asking first).
6. Requesting extras.
7. Talking about politics or religion.
8. Bad ratings for no reason.
9. Underage passengers.
10. Extra stops.

My Take

Respect gets respect. Unfortunately, these days we live in an entitlement-driven society. People do not put themselves in other’s shoes or even seem to think straight anymore. Uber and Lyft passengers are no exception.

99% of the riders I have encountered have been polite, but the bad apples can sure ruin someone’s day real fast. I follow my game plan religiously and have close to 5,000 rides on Uber with a 4.93 rating and over a 1,000 rides on Lyft with a 5.0 rating.

I wish Uber and Lyft did more to educate the passengers, but I doubt that will ever take place. No wonder so many people are ditching rideshare for food delivery companies, like Instacart!

What do you wish passengers knew about their drivers?

-Sergio @ RSG