One question I frequently am asked is, is it better to drive during the day time or the night time? This question can be difficult to answer depending on what you mean by “better” – better as in safer or better as in more money? We decided to put that question to the test by having senior RSG contributor Jay Cradeur evaluate exactly which time (day or night) is better in all aspects for drivers.
The debate rages on! Is it better to drive at night or is it better to drive during the day? I have done both over my 2-year career and 17,000 trips – but which one is actually better for drivers?
Driving at night can be great since there is very little traffic and Prime Time/Surge values can get high. But someone can puke in your car at 2 a.m., which isn’t so great.
Driving during the day can be great because it is light outside and it is much easier to see. But then again, you may find yourself sitting in traffic at 5 p.m. and not making any money.
There are several factors to consider when planning out your weekly schedule. The most pertinent for me are:
- Peace of Mind
Let’s break it down so you can drive when it is best for you.
While it may seem that daytime driving provides the greatest level of safety, it is not so clear-cut. While it is true that driving at night in the dark is definitely more challenging than daytime driving, because it is harder to see, we must also consider how many cars are on the road. Driving in any downtown area during afternoon rush hour can be a harrowing experience.
The factor that most determines the outcome for me, however, is the number of drunk drivers on the road late at night. If you are going to drive intoxicated people home after the bars close, then there are going to be drunk drivers on the road driving next to you as well. Accidents are far more likely to occur.
For this reason, daytime driving is safer than night driving.
Related article: Essential gear every rideshare driver should have
I don’t know about you, but I want to stay safe and alive when I rideshare drive, which is why night-time driving loses out in this round. Surprised by this statistic? Click to tweet!
Winner of this round? Day time driving!
Minimal traffic is a strong plus to nighttime driving since we don’t make any real money sitting in traffic. When I am driving at 1 a.m. on the freeway, I marvel at how few cars are on the road. In San Francisco, it is quite something to behold because during the day it can be a parking lot on Highway 101.
There are certain tricks to avoid the daytime traffic, which an experienced driver may employ. For example, never accept a ride that leaves the downtown area during rush hours. Stay in the city. Stay off the bridge. Don’t go to the airport. These strategies may vary depending on your city, but in San Francisco, these strategies will help you maximize your income and not get trapped in traffic.
Also, focus on driving on Saturday and Sunday early morning, from 6 a.m. to 12 noon. There is no traffic and many folks need to take long trips. You can drive much of the early morning shifts at 70 MPH and really rack up the commissions.
However, with all things considered, night driving wins this category. There are simply fewer cars on the road after the work traffic has subsided.
Winner of this round? Nighttime driving.
Daytime passengers are definitely more docile and manageable than nighttime passengers. While many late night passengers are tired and sleepy, there are always a few who are hitting the peak of a drunken stupor. This can be not only dangerous for you the driver, but you also have to worry about damage to your car. I carry barf bags as a precaution (see image below for my bag of choice), but I have never had to use them.
Daytime drivers on the other hand are only high on caffeine, or adrenaline as they head into work. For quality of passengers, daytime driving wins this category.
Winner of this round? Day time driving (2-daytime, 1-nighttime).
I drove approximately 50 hours for each of 2 weeks for a comparison. I drove exclusively for Lyft.
In the first week, I focused on daytime driving. I drove starting most mornings at 6 a.m. and never drove past 7 p.m. In the second week, I focused during the weekend on nighttime driving, capturing the late night party crowd, staying on the road until 3 a.m. As you can see below, the earnings results are about the same.
While I did get some good primetime earnings late at night, I was also able to get some long rides without traffic early in the mornings. They seem to cancel each other out. For this category, nighttime driving wins by a narrow margin.
Winner of this round? Nighttime, but barely (tied!)
Peace of Mind
When I started driving, I was convinced that night driving was the way to make the real money. I drove Thursday through Saturday night until 3 a.m., put up with some obnoxious passengers, encouraged inebriated passengers to wake up and get out of the car, and pushed my body to stay awake even though I wanted to sleep.
For me, I have much greater peace of mind with a daytime driving schedule. Daytime driving works best for my body. Some people are morning people, and some are night people. I am a morning person.
My number one rule in rideshare driving has been to stay in the game. Avoid car accidents, both on the outside of my car and the inside of my car. Night driving is risky. Safety is a real issue. Someone puking in my car is a real issue. Daytime driving wins this category for greater peace of mind.
Winner of this round? Day time for peace of mind.
While daytime driving wins 3 of the 5 categories, the decision to drive during the day or during the night ultimately depends on what works best for you. If you are a night owl who wakes up late at night, then night driving is clearly a good option for you. If safety is a real concern, then daytime driving is for you. And if you don’t want someone getting sick in your car, drive when the sun is out. Either way, day or night, you can make some good money, meet interesting people, and have fun doing it.
Related article: Essential gear every rideshare driver should have
Have you ever put day vs. night driving to the test? When do you typically make more – driving during the day or driving at night?
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-Jay @ RSG