Maven

Well-Known Member
Driver Safety
How safe are drivers against passenger attack? Let alone attacks from taxi drivers enraged that we are taking there jobs. There is no way to know. None! The cops do not keep these types of statistics. Uber might, but they have a history of not sharing information unless forced.

Not all potential attackers realize or care that Uber drivers do not accept cash (except infrequent tips) like Taxi drivers. Do not expect Uber to provide any extra protection for "independent-contractor" drivers. Yes, unlike Taxis, the cops may track down offenders using the credit card associated with the trip, but that does nothing to stop or prevent an attack.

Driving without rideshare insurance is a huge risk. Many insurers will cancel the personal policy of any X or XL driver if they even suspect ridesharing. They will not cover accidents or attacks by passengers while ridesharing. Fortunately, Uber does provide coverage while ridesharing, but there is a $1000 deductible. Uber insurance is minimal if online, but not on a ride. A few private insurers will provide a "rideshare rider" on personal policies. Most insurers will provide commercial insurance that is far more expensive and therefore impractical for part-time Uber drivers.

Conclusion: The "common wisdom" is that Uber drivers are still safer than taxi drivers, despite the increasing media reports of attacks. The best that drivers can do today is to proactively take preventive measures to keep themselves safe (see below).
2015 Analysis: https://www.cato.org/publications/policy-analysis/ridesharing-safe
Full Report: https://object.cato.org/sites/cato.org/files/pubs/pdf/pa767.pdf

Passenger Safety
This is the flip-side. How safe are passengers against driver attack? Uber never required expensive fingerprinting as part of their background checks, required for most Taxi drivers. How many passengers do not check your license plate before entering your car?

"Uber Better than Taxi" used to be the common wisdom, unproven by any real-world data collection. There was never any real supporting evidence. That is changing with increasing media reports of passengers attacked by Uber drivers. The Taxi industry is further publicizing these incidents. <http://www.whosdrivingyou.org/> Uber has begun allowing drivers with "non-violent" criminal convictions, with predictable results.

Accident Rates of Uber vs Taxi, has the same issues, no hard data, Uber not talking. Perhaps the auto insurance industry has more information, but they are not sharing either.

Conclusion is we do not know, but public perception is shifting against Uber drivers relative to Taxis.

How to Keep Safe
What can you do to minimize risk?
  • If you cannot handle the fact that there is no way to be 100% safe then stop driving Uber.
  • If you cannot handle rowdy drunks cursing and talking sh*t about having sex then don't drive during the "drunk hour", when the bars close, which may have the best surges.
  • Keep doors locked before all pickups. Drive away if you get a bad feeling for any reason.
  • Don't do or say anything to provoke already agitated passengers. Be friendly, agreeable and sympathetic. Get them out of your car quickly as possible.
  • If there is any problem with a passenger that has left the car then drive around the block, out-of-sight and report the incident to Uber immediately. If necessary, call police too.
  • The TOS prohibits guns anywhere in the car, but not other weapons. Check what is legal in your jurisdiction. Keep something that you have training with in an easily reachable location, but out-of-sight. Using any weapon ineffectively will rapidly escalate the situation to your detriment.
  • A dash-cam will irrefutably document any inappropriate behavior by a PAX if there is a dispute.
  • If you cannot wait and must immediately get the passenger out of your car then first try to drive to a well-lit, crowded area, preferably next to a cop.
 
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