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10 min read

    10 min read

    It’s pretty safe to say now that things have changed tremendously for Uber and Lyft drivers over the past few months. Recently, Uber and Lyft announced new safety requirements for drivers and passengers in light of the pandemic. Senior RSG contributor Jay Cradeur explains how Uber and Lyft are implementing and enforcing these safety requirements below.

    There is a “new normal” for Uber and Lyft Drivers.  If you are going to be driving for either of the major rideshare companies, you are going to be wearing a mask. And according to our latest survey, 37% of you are still driving – so kudos and thank you for providing essential rides during this time.

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    Starting May 18, Uber has announced passengers will no longer be allowed to ride in the front seat. Even with a mask on, that is now considered a bit too close. Also, as of May 18, all Uber drivers and passengers will be required to wear a mask or face cover (but only drivers will conduct a selfie check).

    Social distancing has taken over your car.  Today, Uber announced its new safety features.

    In this article, I will present the details of both Uber and Lyft’s safety features, which will guide us into the new pandemic landscape. Lyft announced their safety features to drivers via email earlier this month.

    Quick links:

    Uber and Lyft Now Requiring Everyone to Wear a Mask

    Uber and Lyft require both drivers and passengers wear a mask during the entirety of a trip.

    Uber will make you do a Real Time ID Check at the beginning of your shift to make sure you have your mask on your face. This will be an extension of the identity verification which Uber has been utilizing for its drivers at the beginning of a shift.  You know the drill: pull over, smile, click, drive.

    uber requires masks for drivers

    While Lyft has not announced a selfie check to verify a driver is wearing a mask, later this month, they also will not tolerate drivers who do not wear a mask. You will self-certify you are wearing a mask to drive.

    lyft requires masks for drivers

    When we interviewed drivers still driving for Uber and Lyft during the pandemic in early May, most of them said passengers were already wearing masks.

    These policies will be in place for the next few months, according to Uber.

    How Do You Feel About Wearing A Mask In Your Car?

    I am curious how drivers feel about this new mandate. I currently live a very isolated life.

    I stay home most of the time, and I live with an 81-year-old so I am very careful to avoid congested areas of life.

    For fun, I drive out to get a Vanilla Sweet Cream Cold Brew at Starbucks once or twice a week.  I don’t wear a mask during these outings.

    I do use hand sanitizer upon returning to my car. On a weekly basis, I run out and go to Raleys to buy food for the week.  I do wear a mask while I am in the store.

    I social distance.  Again, I wash my hands as I leave the store, and again when I get into my car.

    But I don’t like it – I do it because it is the safe thing to do.

    Just yesterday, Dr. Fauci said that social distancing is the best form of PPE, but how masks supplement physical distancing when you can’t actually stay away from people (like going to the grocery store):

    A screenshot of a person Description automatically generated

    I do find the mask to be distracting.  It makes my face hot.  My glasses steam up.  My glasses are more likely to fall off my face.

    I have tried the surgical masks and they do seem better at keeping my face cool than the hand made cloth mask I manufactured recently.

    A person driving a car Description automatically generated

    Amazing what you can do with an old sock!

    Regardless of anybody’s personal feelings, the mask is mandatory. If you are going to driver for Uber or Lyft, you will be wearing a mask for the foreseeable future.

    Uber has even created a safety video showing you and me how to wear a mask and a few other safety precautions:

    Passengers Must Also Wear Masks

    You may wonder what happens if you drive up to a passenger, and the passenger does not have a mask.

    According to Uber, you can cancel the ride and collect your normal $5 cancelation fee. The driver is not required to drive a passenger who is not wearing a mask.

    While drivers do have to undergo a selfie check, passengers work on more of an honor system. Drivers are held to a higher standard.

    According to Uber, this is because there is no real-time check already in use for riders like there is with drivers. But I worry what would happen if the ‘mask check’ doesn’t work correctly one day and you are unable to log in and drive and make money. I am sure some drivers will have issues with this.

    So far, according to Lyft, they are only telling passengers to ‘be responsible riders’ and wear a cloth face covering.

    lyft self certify

    If I were to resume driving, I would work hard to find a good supply of masks (Amazon is always a good choice – this is an affiliate link).  This way, when passengers do not have a mask, I can offer them one.

    This would help with tips and I would not have to cancel the ride.  If I have an airport run, the last thing I want to do is cancel and wait for another ride.

    Providing passengers with masks is exactly what one of the drivers we interviewed, Celeste, already does in Southern California. She said she makes them out of paper towels and explains it’s a ‘must do’ in her car. It’s great to see Uber and Lyft making this mandatory for passengers now.

    However, I find it a little hard to believe that Uber is making drivers prove they are wearing a mask (and Lyft is having us ‘self certify’), but basically not asking the same of passengers. It’s up to us, as usual, to enforce this rule from Uber and Lyft.

    It reminds me of the ‘children must be in car seats’ rule from Uber and Lyft that we have to enforce – and risk not getting a cancellation fee, getting yelled at by passengers, etc. Hopefully, this rule will be easier to enforce since passengers probably don’t want to get sick either, but how easy would it be to have passengers also self-certify they’re wearing a mask?

    Even if you call the ride for another person, they just should have to prove they’re wearing a mask. It doesn’t seem that difficult.

    Uber has acknowledged they don’t have a system in place yet for having riders take selfies, so we will see if they work on that – something drivers have been asking for just for basic safety.

    Uber and Lyft Will Provide Safety Supplies to Drivers

    Uber is committing $50M in safety supplies, while Lyft is committing $2.5M. That is a significant investment on Uber’s part and 25x what Lyft is committing.

    This includes things like hand sanitizers that are currently available. Let’s hope they can get us some extra masks as well.

    A picture containing outdoor, table, sitting, car Description automatically generated

    According to Uber:

    We have allocated $50 million to purchase supplies like masks, gloves, hand sanitizer, disinfectant sprays and wipes. As of this week, we have secured more than 23 million masks for drivers and delivery people around the world. Many of these items were shipped directly to drivers’ homes. 

    We will see how this pans out – when we surveyed drivers still driving during the pandemic earlier in May, slightly less than half of them said they had not been provided any masks or sanitizers from Uber or Lyft.

    Some drivers said they had been offered PPE, but for pick up at hubs that are too far away for some drivers to get to. Hopefully Uber and Lyft will be more like DoorDash and actually mail PPE to drivers instead of making them spend time and gas to drive to a Hub.

    According to Uber, this is what will happen: drivers can choose to have PPE delivered to them (non-contact) or pick up the items at the local Hub.

    Safety Checklist

    Uber has instituted a safety checklist for both drivers and passengers:

    Before you can go online to drive or deliver, you will be asked to confirm, via a new Go Online Checklist, that you’ve taken certain preventive measures.

    The Go Online Checklist includes steps such as having on a face cover or mask, that you have sanitized your vehicle or food delivery equipment, and that you will not allow anyone to ride in your front seat. 

    On the rider side, in addition to riders confirming they are wearing a mask, the rider also must also agree to sit in the back seat and open windows for ventilation.

    No More Front Seat Passengers

    For Uber, the new rule is no passengers may sit in the front seat. The UberX maximum number of passengers is now three.

    Some of my best rides have been with passengers who sit in the front seat.  I know that when I am a passenger, I always sit in the front seat to talk with the driver.

    Those days are gone.

    Lyft has not created a “no front seat passenger” rule yet, but I think we can all agree it is coming soon.  We’ll keep you posted.

    Let’s Take a Breath (Through a Mask)

    Let’s summarize the new normal for Uber and Lyft drivers:

    • If you are a driver, you will have to wear a mask.
    • If you see a passenger without a mask, you may cancel, drive away and collect a $5 cancelation fee from Uber.
    • Those passengers who do have a mask on their face must sit in the back seat (again, Uber only at this time).
    • Uber and Lyft will be provided some cleaning and various safety supplies to help drivers keep themselves and their cars germ-free.

    Key Takeaways

    Gone are the halcyon days when I could drive the open road, windows open, with my passenger by my side as we listen to Miles Davis. I am recalling one specific passenger on Highway 280. It was a glorious day and it is a fond memory.

    Today, he will be sitting in the back seat and we will both be wearing masks.  The times, they are a changin’.

    It is remarkable how good we had it. I loved the front seat passengers, the ones with enough confidence, and interest, to interact and engage.

    Sadly, driving with a mask on my face is something I don’t know if I can get past.  The only words I can come up with are buzz kill.

    Each driver will have to determine whether driving is still the way you want to earn money.  Perhaps it is time to turn Plan B into Plan A.  We all have our choice to make.  Be safe out there.

    Drivers, have you received any news or announcements from Uber or Lyft about more personal protective equipment (including wipes and hand sanitizer) for drivers? Have you noticed more passengers wearing masks?

    -Jay @ RSG

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    Resources:

    Jay Cradeur

    Jay Cradeur

    Jay Cradeur, a graduate of the Haas School of Business at UC Berkeley, is a full-time driver with over 26,000 rides. Jay has a driver-focused podcast: Rideshare Dojo with Jay Cradeur. When Jay isn’t writing articles or making videos, he is traveling the world. You can see what Jay is up to at www.nomadjay.com.

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