I am not talking about charging cords or napkins, those are just common sense!
Full time or part time, young or old, male or female, does not matter. There are five critical things that drivers must have (for their own good), things that U/L will not tell you about. Here they are, in no particular order (because you need them ALL). I will touch briefly on the reasons why you need them as well.
Experienced drivers, please add your (brief) stories that relate to how any of these things have saved your butt in the comments section below.
As it pertains to ride hailing, there are three potential components to dashcams. Forward facing video, cabin video, and cabin audio. The best cameras will have all three. I will not promote a specific camera or brand, instead I suggest you take an hour and shop around or research online. Be prepared to spend up to a few hundred dollars. The one I got cost me $255 including tax and shipping, and I paid a car stereo place $70 to hardwire it into my car, so my net cost was $325. There are quite a few dashcams available for significantly less money.
The forward facing video is unbelievably important, hopefully for obvious reasons. If you are in an accident with anything – car, bicycle, animal, pedestrian, scooter, child, motorcycle – this could mean the difference between getting paid by the insurance company or being sent to jail for XX years! In a world where people don’t want to take responsibility for their own improper actions, a forward facing dashcam is necessary if you are in a driving job. I have personally used my dashcam to provide insurance companies with footage of accidents that I have been in and witnessed; one time it was used to catch a hit-and-run driver.
The cabin facing video goes a long way when it comes to prevention and deterrence. It is used most effectively when combined with audio. Take a few minutes and scan the internet for news stories of people who have been caught attacking or falsely accusing their Uber driver. If the driver did not have a dashcam and post the video on the internet, the driver would likely be fired instead! Many drivers will tell you that the dashcam is necessary to give proof of innocence to Uber or Lyft, however I believe it is more important when it comes to giving proof to the police or the district attorney. Either way, it is absolutely necessary for anyone who transports strangers in their car for money.
Video can be recorded at any time during the ride with or without permission. People pull out their cell phones in public and record video all the time, and it is perfectly legal. The audio component is one that has laws attached to it. In the USA, you should look up the audio recording laws for EVERY state that you drive in. States are categorized as One Party or Two Party states, and the law will determine your legal standing if anyone ever complains that you recorded them without permission.
In a One Party state, only one of the individuals in the group (that is being recorded) is required to give consent that a recording is taking place. If you, the driver, are aware that you are recording everyone in your vehicle, then that satisfies the requirement.
In a Two Party state, EVERYONE who is being recorded must be made aware of the recording. They must give their consent to being recorded. If you let them know they are being recorded (by posting clearly visible signage inside your vehicle, where everyone can see it), and they allow you to continue without saying STOP, then they have given you implied consent or informed consent and that is acceptable.
Regardless of whether you are in a One Party or Two Party state, if a person says that they are NOT okay with being recorded, you must stop the audio portion, unless you are in immediate danger or laws are being broken. Simply pull over and end the ride, and ask them to exit the vehicle. It is illegal for you to record audio without consent, unless you happen to be a police officer or some other special circumstance.
Disclaimer: I am not an attorney, if you feel my information is wrong then look it up yourself and make sure you follow it. This article is intended to provide BASIC meaningful information, nothing more.
Rideshare Gap Insurance
Insurance companies break the entire ride transaction into a three part cycle, each cycle being called a Phase. Phase one is when you are waiting for a request/ping. Phase two is when you have an accepted request and are driving to or waiting to pick up a specific customer. Phase three is when you are delivering the customer. When you are done with Phase three, either you turn off your app or you return to Phase one (if no stacked ping) or Phase two (if you have an accepted stacked ping).
The companies (Uber, Lyft, etc) will tell you that you are covered in all three Phases, however, like everything they say, that is only a partial truth at best. For purposes of this discussion, your greatest exposure is during Phase one. If you get in an accident Uber and Lyft will attempt to distance themselves from you, since you weren’t actively involved in the process of working with a specific customer or company. Their coverage is weakest at this point, and their insurance will make every attempt to brush you off.
Rideshare Gap coverage will extend your personal coverage to cover you during Phase one. In the event of an accident, your insurance company will ask if you if you were driving Lyft or Uber at the time. If you have RS Gap coverage, you can honestly answer yes and they will still take care of it.
If you do not have RS Gap coverage and there is an accident, and they catch you lying about driving ridehail, not only will you be uninsured (by them) for that accident, but your personal insurance will drop you like yesterday’s garbage. Since the cost of RS Gap coverage is amazingly low (currently under $200/year) it makes no sense to take chances.
Instrument of Self Defense
The world is ripe with people looking to do you wrong. Uber has a “no guns” policy. Lyft has a “no weapons” policy. I personally have a “No Victim Here” policy, and if that means inflicting harm on someone in order to save my own life, then that is what is going to happen. There are worse things than getting deactivated. Better to be judged by 12 than carried by 6.
I won’t tell you what is the right tool for your self defense. There are plenty of threads and conversations about what you should use to protect yourself. It could be something as simple as a MagLite (heavy flashlight) or a screwdriver, or as intense as a pair of concealed 45s. I suggest that whatever you decide to use, make sure it is something that you are comfortable using in a worst case scenario. If you don’t think you could actually shoot someone, then a gun is not for you. I will advise against any kind of gas sprays, because they will instantly fill your vehicle and affect you as well as your intended target.
Under normal circumstances, discussions such as this one are purely hypothetical. But if it ever is needed, this may be a life-or-death choice that you have made for yourself, so choose wisely! Weapon choices are many. And there is no rule in the Book of Life that says you cannot have more than one form of self defense at your disposal.
I have had 5 vomit “episodes” in my vehicle, and three of them made it 100% into a vomit bag. The most recent one was a woman I picked up from the airport around 4pm. No alcohol was involved, the sun was shining. She said the flight made her queasy, and I told her I had vomit bags. We were in rush hour traffic and she ended up using one. You know how hard it is to change lanes on the freeway during rush hour? There is no way I was able to change lanes and pull over fast enough, thank goodness for the bag! Even if you don’t drive the bar crowd, you still need to stock vomit bags. Get them online for $10-20. Some people love to clean up puke and collect a cleaning fee, but I am not one of them.
Towels or Blankets
Two major uses for these things, the primary one being animals. When a wet dog gets in your car it is wise to have something to protect your seats from muddy paws, which future passengers will also appreciate as they sit down on your dry clean seats.
The second usage is in the unlikely event that you are stranded somewhere. Perhaps you run out of gas or get a flat tire on some deserted road with sketchy phone service, and it is cold. A jacket, towel or blanket will help keep you warm until help arrives. No one thinks it can happen to them, until it does.
Even if you have seat covers, you should still keep towels or blankets in your trunk, unless you drive in a climate where it never gets below 70 degrees at night.
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Depending on your driving location and circumstances, there may be additional things that would be wise to keep with you while driving (ex: water in Phoenix would be smart). I hope everyone sees the wisdom in these five things, and takes the necessary steps to make sure they are covered!