This is a warning to all rideshare drivers, nowadays it is so easy to lose your driving privileges on both Uber and Lyft platforms. The number of false accusations pedaled against innocent drivers grows on a daily basis. It is a well-known fact that both companies will take the side of the rider, especially when the allegation is about drunkenness, reckless driving, or abusive behavior.
The only viable defense against lies told by passengers is to have a live recording of all rides. The dashcam should not only record the images of the passengers but also audio of all conversations that take place during the trip. A good dash cam recorder is not cheap, but it might be the only accepted defense when it comes to he said, she said, type of accusations.
Why I Quickly Purchased A Dash Cam Recorder
As an Uber driver for about two years and Lyft driver for less than one year, it never occurred to me that I will be accused of been drunk by a rider. I got a ride request on the Uber platform and picked up the passenger at a local train station. It was a 15 to 20 minutes trip and started with all the usual pleasantries exchanged. From my recollection, the time of the trip was before 5 AM on a weekday.
On the highway, the rider informed me he would like to make a stop at a McDonald’s restaurant. Within the city of Atlanta and the small towns surrounding it, the only available spots to get a bite is Waffle House, fast-food drive-through windows, or convenience stores located inside gas stations.
Due to after-hours clubs and parties, the drive-thru for the local MacDonald’s is usually packed, because that is the only way to order. I promptly informed the rider that the request is not viable and will take too long. The customer exploded with anger and he insisted I must honor his request or he will call Uber and report me for misdeeds.
I did not take the bait to engage the rider but continued on the trip. He assured me he would be calling Uber to make his complaint and will not be paying for this ride. I was not perturbed either was I concerned since I did nothing wrong. This rider was spewing all kinds of threats from the back seat all the way to his destination.
Immediately after I dropped him off I called Uber customer support and reported the rider and all the threats he made against me during the trip. The support personnel assured me the rider’s account will be flagged for abusive behavior towards the driver.
I thought all was handled well but was I in for a rude awakening. Less than an hour after the ride ended, a notice popped up on my Uber drivers App that my account was being put on hold due to a serious allegation from one of my riders on a recent trip.
I immediately contacted the support team again and was told to reply to the message sent to me through the App. To say the support staff is clueless will be an understatement. They lacked knowledge about why my good standing account was put on temporary suspension, neither could they tell me the steps needed to fix the problem.
I pulled over and read the statement from Uber, which basically said a recent rider said I appeared to be under the influence. Mind you, the last time I had a drink was over 20-years ago, and neither do I smoke. I have heard similar false allegations been made against other drivers, but I always assumed the Uber drivers must have done something wrong.
To be falsely accused is the worst feeling in the world if you’re a dedicated Uber driver. I sent a reply to the Uber message and went home since my ability to earn any money was temporarily restricted. At home, I looked over dozens of YouTube videos from drivers facing similar accusations. Some were never able to prove their innocence and lost their earning privileges on the platform.
The local Uber office will be opening up in about two hours. With different thoughts going through my head on how to prove my innocence I made my way to the Uber office. The Uber office had no electric power but the staff was able to run their laptop using battery power.
I explained my predicament to the young lady and she gave me the rundown as to what was going on. Whenever an allegation of this magnitude is made the first person to be investigated is the rider. Also, Uber will secretly run a new background and driving record check on the driver.
I explained this happed early morning and as she could see, I am not drunk or smelled of alcohol. She said a note of her observations will be placed on my account. I asked her how do drivers defend themselves against such accusations, she could not provide a reasonable answer.
She asked me if I had any video recording of the incident, I said no. She suggested it might be wise on my part to invest in a dashcam that could record both audio and images of the riders on each trip.
I pressed for more information about the rider and she told me he was under investigation for credit card fraud and have made at least more than four similar allegations against other drivers within the past months.
Such allegations require at least a twenty-four hours cooling period for Uber to investigate. Since it is he said, she said type of serious allegation, what pops up in a new background and driving record search will be the determining factor.
She assured me my account will be restored after the twenty-four hours period since the rider is under suspicion for committing fraud of a more serious nature. It took less than eight hours for my account to be restored in good standing, but the experience left a bitter taste in my mouth.
Related Post – To see if you have what it takes to be successful at ridesharing, read our take on Uber Driver Requirements in any state
How to Protect Yourself As an Uber Driver
If you do ridesharing full-time or part-time the only defense that will reveal the truth is to use an interior car camera with video and audio recording capabilities. I have noticed how easy it is for people to lie with ease. Most riders are nice and fun to transport, but the nasty few can ruin your livelihood with baseless accusations.
After installing the dash cam, I also installed a clearly visible sticker informing all riders that the interior of my car is fully audio and video recorded. I soon became aware that people are well behaved with a video recorder present.
I can assure you that Uber drivers have a right to record even in states with a two-party consent requirement as long as the ” camera warning sticker” is clearly visible for the passengers to see before entering and once inside the vehicle.
Since I started using a dash camera the behavior of most of my rides has improved significantly. The “chatterbox” riders are now prone to less talking, which is perfectly fine with me. One or two riders asked me what happens to the recording, I told them it is uploaded into my storage box in the cloud in real-time for a certain period of time.
Steps to Guard Against False Accusations
1 – Place a bag in your front seat and direct every rider to sit in the back unless there are three or more riders. I once told a “hot” female rider that tried to sit in the front that the back seat is probably the best place to be.
She had that surprised look on her face as if to say, am I not pretty enough to sit in your front seat. If you’re a guy driving for Uber, do not let any lone female rider to sit in your front seat. The prettiest people can be the most convincing liars.
Also, it is quite difficult to say the driver touched you while riding in the back seat as compared to sitting up front. This is even more relevant if the passenger is drunk or under the influence. I always have a small plastic bag on my front seat, which makes most riders ride in the back seat.
2 – If you’re uncomfortable with any rider or their request, cancel the ride before going any further. My pet peeve is against customers requesting multiple stops. On the Lyft platform, the destination will reveal itself once the driver arrives at the address. 99% of the time I cancel multiple rides before the customer gets to my car.
On the Uber platform, the destination is not shown until the trip is started. I instantly analyze what the first stop will be before moving. I don’t mind a quick stop at a gas station convenience store, but a stop at the local Walmart or Target to pick up one item will lead to immediate trip cancellation.
The going per-minute rate for waiting or not moving is about 9 or 10 cents. Also, from my experience driving for Uber and Lyft, customers with multiple stops are usually lousy tippers. The ones that say I will tip you well are usually lying.
3 – Exchange greetings and pleasantries with your riders and then keep your mouth shut. Most people are so easily offended in this digital age. Keeping your eye on the road and speaking less is a good way to maintain high ratings.
Even if your rider says something you agree with, do not take the bait and engage, because what comes out of your mouth might be viewed offensive. I do not discuss politics, sex, relationship, kids or other sensitive topics.
Neither will I make comment about race relations, bad neighborhoods. Refrain from yelling at other motorists while on the road, neither should you be weaving in and out of traffic like a maniac.
4 – Accommodate your riders request to take a certain route. Most often, riders with different route request know what they’re talking about. If I am in doubt about using their route I turn on the Waze navigation app to ensure it is the quickest.
5 – The rider can make or take phone calls, but the driver yapping away on the phone while on the road might not be the wisest thing to do. As a rule, I do not accept phone calls while a passenger is inside my car. My full focus is on the road ahead and most passengers appreciate that. Treat your Uber/Lyft gig as a job and you will be fine.
6 – Ensure you’re not eating while driving. Yes, the customer might not say anything but some might file a false claim of being a careless driver. The sad thing is that the customers that will file a grievance cannot be easily predetermined.
Lyft And Uber Drivers Have a Right to Record
It is quite legal for rideshare drivers to record what’s happening inside the vehicle during the trip, but there are compliance issues to keep in mind. There are 35 states plus the District of Columbia with one-party consent laws, which simply means the ride can be recorded as long as the person doing the recording is part of the trip.
The 35 states plus one, with one-party video or call recording rule, are:
Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, District of Columbia, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming,
The list of the 15 States with the all-party consent laws for calls or video recording are:
California, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Washington,
You can read more about the rules governing call and video recordings for each State at this site. Just to be on the legal side of Uber driver recording passenger rules install a warning notice on your windows informing all riders the trip will be recorded.
For all the Uber and Lyft drivers without a dashcam, know those false allegations are real and can happen anytime. Unfortunately, the riders filling the false claim might be the unexpected ones. The best dash cam recommendation for Uber drivers from my research is the AKASO Trace 1 Pro Dual Lens Car Dash Camera. Protect your ability to keep earning a living by recording all that happens inside your vehicle during every trip.