Should You Drive During a Hurricane?: Strategies from a Florida Driver

Hurricane season on the Atlantic runs from June 1 to November 30, and every year it seems more dangerous than the last. At the same time, sometimes hurricanes are promised to hit land and don’t, and other times they aren’t supposed to hit land but then do. As an Uber driver, you’re given a difficult choice: drive or stay safe. Join RSG contributor Tyler Philbrook (and resident Floridian) as he recounts his recent experience with Hurricane Ian. 

Not that long ago, I was evacuated from my home due to Hurricane Ian.

It was a terrifying, anxiety-ridden situation where we really had no idea what would happen.

Here’s what some of the coverage surrounding Ian looked like:

In the middle of everything, I got a message from Uber asking me if I felt safe to be out driving and that there was a need for drivers.

Going out and driving was the last thing on my mind, and honestly, the fact that they were even asking is kind of crazy to me.

At the end of the day though, Uber is a company that needs to make money, and to do that they need drivers. I didn’t drive, and no one I know personally did, but there were some drivers who did because Uber offered free $30 vouchers to people unable to get to shelters for evacuation.

This is by no means the first time a company has asked people to work when they really shouldn’t.

As independent contractors, ultimately, we get to decide if we are going to or not, and there is more than money to consider when deciding when to drive.

Quick Summary: 

  • Your life is more important than making money during dangerous situations.
  • Find other times to make decent money, such as early mornings and times when other drivers are not on the road.
  • Choose to stay safe and follow recommendations during natural disasters.

Living Life vs Making Money

Life is not about how much money you make, or even how much money you have. In fact, what I consider a good life may not be what you consider one to be. We all define this differently because we all have different perspectives.

For me, sitting on the couch watching my favorite show with my favorite person on a Friday night is the best thing I can do.

Maybe for you, it’s going to a club on a Friday night or traveling to a new exotic place.

Whatever it is, your life takes money, which is why we all work, and many people have side hustles.

That said, making money is important, but not necessarily during dangerous situations. Is the potential loss of life worth making a few extra bucks?

Don’t be fooled by how much money companies offer. You should make decisions based on what’s best for you, not what’s best for them.

Even if you aren’t in the midst of a natural disaster, make sure that you live your life, do something fun with the money you’re making, and spend time with those that mean the most to you.

My advice? I would recommend not driving when you don’t feel safe, but also consider driving during times when others may not be out (like early mornings, lunch shifts, etc.)

Find Ways to Earn More Money on “Normal” Days

On days when there is not a hurricane, look for ways where you can increase your earnings.

When It’s Raining

In the area of Florida where I live, there is heavy rain almost every single day in the summer. It usually lasts less than 30 minutes, and if you’re not used to driving in it, it can be a huge pain to drive in.

I don’t mind getting wet while delivering food, though most drivers do, so for me, this is one of the best times to get a food request.

Not only are people less likely to get on the road to deliver food, but people are more likely to order delivery rather than deal with the weather and go to a restaurant or grocery store themselves.

In the Early Morning

There are few early-morning people out there. Right now I cannot think of one single friend that I have that naturally gets up before 9 or 10 am.

But people need to get to work, or to the airport early in the morning, and they need drivers. This is one of the best times if you’re willing to get up early to make some money without a lot of competition.

One time I picked someone up at 5 am on a Sunday morning, and the guy got in the car and asked how my night was going. When I explained I had just started for the day, he drunkenly told me he hadn’t been to bed yet.

Most drivers, especially if they drive late on the weekends, are not going to start early in the morning, so it’s a great way to drive when others don’t and make good money.

During Typical Work Hours

A friend of mine, who works from 8 am to 4:30 pm Monday through Friday, would use his 30-minute lunch breaks every day to get a delivery. He would eat very fast, or skip eating altogether and just make a few dollars every day on his lunch break.

This always seemed to work for him, because people are typically at work at that time and can’t be out driving at that time.

I love driving a “lunch shift” for food delivery. I start around 11 and am done around 3, and honestly, the “dinner shift” in my area starts at 4 and goes till midnight if you want to drive that long.

Driving when most “weekend warriors” are doing their 9 to 5 jobs will mean you get more requests, and make more money.

Above All, Stay Safe

My family and I were completely fine for Hurricane Ian, but others were not so fortunate.

We had to evacuate and decided to drive up to Georgia for a few days until the storm passed by. Although we were initially forecasted to get a direct hit, at the very last minute, the storm turned and hit about an hour south of us.

This is now the second hurricane I’ve experienced in my nearly 20 years of living here, and I’d like to never go through another.

Whatever comes through, I will always do what’s best and safest for my family, and truly hope that you do the same.

Takeaways for Drivers

As you can tell from this article, I believe you should choose to stay safe over making money with Uber. You could get into difficult and dangerous situations if you drive during natural disasters like hurricanes.

There are other times (not during disaster times) when you can make decent money and save up to help cover you during these kinds of emergencies. Find the busiest times for you as a driver and use that as much as possible.

If you are in the middle of a natural disaster, please choose safety over money. Your life is worth more than that.

What would you do if you were told to evacuate, but Uber offered bonuses to get you on the dangerous road? Have you ever driven during a hurricane, tornado, or other disaster?

-Tyler @ RSG