6 min read

    6 min read

    If Uber offered you a dash cam subscription service that stored your passenger interactions to the cloud, would you take them up on it? That’s a question some drivers around the country were asked, so we sent senior RSG contributor Paula Gibbins out to see what this Nauto + Uber dash cam program is and how it could affect drivers.

    Dash cameras are a great thing for rideshare drivers to have. They keep an eye out where you can’t and act as a witness to events, helping prevent “he said – she said” situations. So, it should be a great thing that Uber is offering their drivers a dash cam for only $5 a month, right?

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    Not everyone thinks so. Let’s dive into the pluses and minuses of this concept, while also looking at some of the features of Nauto, which is the dash cam Uber is using for this program.

    Quick links:

    The Uber Nauto Dash Cam Program

    Uber added the ability to record video and audio for trips in July 2019, working with the company Nauto Inc. for the dash cameras. Nauto’s website lists seven cities where it’s currently working with Uber on dashcam recording:

    • Dallas
    • Houston
    • Memphis
    • Nashville
    • Fort Myers, FL
    • Naples, FL
    • Tampa

    Additionally, an Uber spokesperson said some drivers are in the program in San Antonio, Miami, Orlando, Austin and Jacksonville, FL.

    From reader reports, it seems as those some drivers received an email from Uber offering them to ‘upgrade their car with a dash cam’ by trying a 12-month subscription of the cloud-connected dashcam. Some drivers said they were offered the subscription for $5 a month, and others said they were offered the subscription at $10 a month.

    About Nauto

    The Nauto dash cam for Uber is a dual camera dash cam, meaning it will take video of the inside and outside of your vehicle. The app easily allows you to see video clips taken that were automatically saved when the dash cam thought an accident or other incident occurred.

    This specific model has an alert if it thinks you’re driving distractedly, to help keep you focused on the road. It saves up to 30 hours of driving history and through the app you can ask Uber to review specific footage in the event of a crash or safety incident. It also shows you your driving habits, so you can learn where your weaknesses are and how to improve your driver safety.

    The Upsides

    One of the biggest things in the plus column for this is that dash cams help promote safety. A dash cam like the one from the Nauto + Uber partnership will keep the driver safer from passengers and vice versa. People are less likely to do something illegal if they know they are being filmed. It’ll also help drivers prove their innocence in a car accident if it was the other guy’s fault. Can’t deny solid evidence.

    Another upside is that $5 (or even $10) a month is affordable. That’s really not a bad deal.

    Personally, I’d rather purchase a dash cam, but if I was using a service like HyreCar, where I’m using someone else’s vehicle, I think renting it would be a great option for me. That way, once I returned the car, I could return the dash cam as well and move on with whatever I’m doing now, without the expense of buying my own dash cam.

    The Downsides

    Here’s where it gets a bit tricky. By agreeing to this program and renting the dash cam, you’re allowing Uber to access the video/audio at any time. Not just when you’re driving and not just when you or a passenger has reported an issue. However, in the information put out about this program, it states that Uber will only look at the footage if you request it, but I don’t necessarily buy that, and a lot of drivers feel the same way.

    It’s hard to trust Uber if they say they aren’t going to look at the footage unless specifically requested. There might be instances that crop up where they’d be able to justify going into accounts viewing this footage without giving the driver a heads up, such as if a passenger claims something. Would they really wait for the driver to respond to look into that kind of claim?

    One thing that I question in that respect is, if we do something during our personal time while using this vehicle that is legal but not allowed on the platform, would Uber use that as a reason to terminate us? If I had a dash cam in my car, I’d use it all the time, not just when I’m using the platform.

    They could use the footage to more easily terminate drivers. Granted, that might be an okay thing for the plain and simple reason that if you’re doing something against the terms of service while using the service, you should be deactivated.

    Another downside is you’re paying monthly for it. How long before that monthly payment goes up? You’re spending money to use something that you could probably buy outright for yourself where Uber wouldn’t be able to listen in on it or poke into the video footage whenever they want. Why pay to have Uber butt into your life even more?

    Potential Implications

    It’s possible, albeit unlikely, in the future that Uber will require all of their drivers to have these devices installed in their vehicles. But, that would look very different from what this program is supposed to be. For that to even be legal, Uber would probably have to start considering its drivers to be employees and Uber would probably have to provide the equipment free of charge.

    Is It Worth It?

    In my opinion, no. But, it’s obviously up to each driver to decide for themselves. I would much rather purchase my own dash cam for driver for Uber and Lyft than renting one from one of those services. It just seems a bit fishy to me and not entirely to be trusted.

    Looking for a list of the best dash cams for rideshare drivers? Our complete guide to the best dash cameras here!

    Don’t get me wrong, I 100% love the idea of every rideshare driver (or any driver for that matter) having a dash cam. I think they are great tools that are underutilized right now. I just have a hard time swallowing this deal.

    Readers, were you offered this Nauto + Uber dash cam deal? If so, did you sign up for the subscription program? Would you if you were offered this program?

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    Paula Gibbins

    Paula Gibbins

    Paula Gibbins, a graduate of Augustana University, Sioux Falls, is a part-time rideshare driver and a full-time proofreader. She is based in Minneapolis/St. Paul. In her free time, Paula enjoys reading, playing board games and participating in trivia nights.

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