I started driving for Uber and Lyft four months ago and have given just over 400 rides. Now that’s not nearly as many as some of the drivers who have been going full-time for years, but it’s enough to have a good understanding of the system and what needs to take place for the system to run as smoothly as possible. I’ve gotten better as a driver and have observed the traits of a passenger that both make my life easier and allow me to get them to their destination as quickly and safely as possible. So, I decided it might be valuable to share some of that wisdom with you, future passenger, in case one of these tips hadn’t crossed your mind before. If your first thought after reading that is “Just shut up and drive me to my destination, clown”, feel free to just click exit. And know that I’m hitting the speed bumps hard if you’re in the back. Otherwise, check ‘em out, and let me know what you think!

Before Your Ride:

-          Be ready to go. Drivers don’t get paid well at all for idle time (more on that later), so waiting for you to come downstairs and get in the car can be a real pain point. Both Uber and Lyft give time estimates on how far away your driver is. If you know you won’t be ready, just cancel. Or if something comes up that causes a delay, at least message the driver and tell them you’re on your way. The not knowing is the worst part.

-          Let Drivers know of any special pick up instructions. The more information you can give the driver, the better. But the most helpful pieces of info are as follows:

  • Gate code for your apartment (and building number if your address just takes you to the front gate)
  • Business name – this is much more helpful than address for commercial properties (address numbers aren’t always posted and are never easy to see)
  • Entrance location – this applies to apartments, hospitals, hotels, etc.…any large place with more than one pickup option, don’t make your driver guess

-          Share Your Location with the Driver. Nothing will make finding you easier for the driver than if they have your actual location. And it’s not near as creepy as you might think, it goes away as soon as the ride starts, or you cancel. Here’s how you do it in the Uber app.

-          Give the Driver a chance to pull off the road. Picking up passengers in the middle of the road is illegal. That doesn’t mean we don’t do it sometimes, but life is much easier (and safer) if we can pull off the road. This isn’t near as important in a residential neighborhood as it is in downtown Atlanta. So, if you’re in a busy part of town, find a driveway, empty parking space, or loading zone to stand by.

-          Understand your ride type selection.  For Uber Pool or Lyft Shared, you have limitations in exchange for the lower rate. You can’t change your address or add more than one stop. So don’t ask your driver to go outside the rules for you. Remember, for these services, it’s not just the driver, but other potential passengers, that are being inconvenienced.

During Your Ride

-          Talk or don’t talk, it’s up to you. I’ve heard of drivers complaining about passengers that don’t talk or talk too much, but I suggest that they’re in the wrong business. I feel like I have a pretty good gauge on if people want to talk or not, but not everyone is as blessed with a high EQ as me. So a good pair of headphone always helps send the right message if you want some peace and quiet. And one last request…if you want to sit in silence, go for it, but please don’t sit in the front seat. That’s just weird.

-          Feel Free to give directions or share local driving knowledge. This may be another one that some drivers disagree on, but I will always welcome suggestions from passengers if they’re offered respectfully. I trust passengers to know what intersections are bad at rush hour, or what lights take forever, far more than Uber’s navigation. It factors in traffic, but it’s not perfect.

-          Keep clean. I’m not going to care if you’re feet are wet when it’s raining. Out of your control. But taking your trash with you is completely within your control.

-          Share details of dropoff as you get close. Similar to pick up, if all we have is an address, it may not be clear cut. Both Uber and Lyft’s navigation leaves a little to be desired on drop-off location directions, so a store name, side of the road, etc., is always helpful.

-          No, you can’t smoke in my car. Yes, that includes weed. Listen, man, I’m hip to the game. I’m down. But I use this thing to earn money. And not everyone loves the smell of tobacco or other green leafy substances.

-          Don’t make drivers wait in drive-thru. While on a trip, drivers earn ~$0.10 / minute. That equates to about $6 / hour. So it’s quite a waste of drivers’ times to sit in a late night drive thru. They offer UBER Eats for this exact reason. But if you’re drunk and the munchies overtake you, at least offer the driver some food and drink for their trouble. A McFlurry makes me very forgiving.

After Your Ride

-          Rate your Driver. The rating system is the best way to make drivers better. Rewarding a successful trip with a 5 star rating is a good way to encourage more successful trips. And if you have a bad experience, give a poor rating with details of what went wrong. Uber and Lyft can only police their drivers if they have all the information. Also, we don’t know exactly who gave us what rating, so you don’t need to worry about someone tracking you down for your feedback. And just to give you a data point to work off of, the average driver rating is 4.8.

-          Tips are Optional, but always appreciated. I’ll never get mad at someone for not tipping me. I (and other drivers) are fully aware of the agreed upon rates for every trip. That said, it sure is nice. And tips are definitely what make the difference between an average day and a good day driving, money-wise. So if you had a really good conversation, or just want to thank the driver for getting you home safe and sound, toss a couple bucks. And if you don’t want to tip, try using the ‘Give a Compliment’ option. Drivers don’t get any compensation for these, but it’s a nice little boost to the ego to get some specific feedback on something you’ve done well.

That’s it. Just a few tips to help you become the best passenger you can be.

If you don’t have both apps, you should. Unless you’re just protesting Uber for their corporate culture (which is your prerogative), I always check both before booking a ride. One is always a buck or two cheaper than the other, and there’s really no reason to think one will give you better drivers, cleaner cars, etc. From personal experience, the driver sign up experience for both was very similar.

If you want to download one of the apps and sign up, you can use these links and get a small sign up bonus (I get a small bonus as well)

Uber                                      Lyft

And if this inspired you to sign up for a driver. I’d be surprised. But nonetheless, I have some referral links for that too:

Uber                                      Lyft

Questions? Comments? I’d love to hear your thoughts!