How do rideshare drivers handle tough situations? I break down the most common odd situations drivers will find themselves in, how to handle them, and the top way to protect yourself as a rideshare driver.
Buckle has partnered with Harry Campbell, founder of TheRideshareGuy.com, to provide our Members with the very best tips, tricks, and news to help maximize their income as a rideshare and delivery driver.
As with every customer service job, rideshare drivers are no strangers to handling tough situations (and conversations) while out driving. However, how can a new driver handle confrontations and all around unusual situations? Based on years of experience, thousands of interviews and LOTS of rides - below are three examples of common situations drivers may face and how to handle them.
Example #1 - Drunk Passengers
It’s fairly common knowledge by now that many people prefer to take rideshare when they go out for a night of drinking/partying. While that’s great for road safety, dealing with a drunk person can be unnerving for new rideshare drivers.
You never know exactly what kind of drunk person you’re going to get: talkative? Angry? Sleepy? The options are endless, but there are some common sense approaches you can take to handle this.
One driver Kim stated on Facebook that she had picked up a gentleman who needed assistance getting into the vehicle due to being extremely drunk. His destination was only 5 minutes away, but within the first 2 minutes of the drive, he was slouched over and passed out in the backseat.
How to handle the situation
First, determine what kind of drunk you have in the car. A happy, sociable drunk is typically fine - just make sure to stay in control of the conversation so they remain happy!
An angry drunk is a little different - you can try changing the subject, or asking them what music they’d like to listen to. Sometimes redirection is all they need!
A sleepy drunk is tricky. You don’t want them to pass out in your backseat, but at the same time, peace and quiet is nice. Basically just try to keep them awake, and play the music louder if you need to!
In Kim’s case, she did have to escalate it. She tried waking up the passenger after she arrived at the drop off location, but was unsuccessful. An unconscious person means it’s a medical emergency, so next, she called the ambulance. They were also unsuccessful in waking the passenger. He finally woke up as they were loading him into the ambulance.
If you’re ever in a similar situation, be sure to keep calm, do your best to wake the passenger, and if unsuccessful, call the medical emergency line to get professional help.
Example #2 - Passenger refuses to leave the vehicle
It’s not often that a passenger might refuse to leave your vehicle, but it does happen. Why they refuse to leave your vehicle could be due to a lot of reasons, including wanting to go somewhere else (but not adding it to the app destination), being in a fight with another passenger, or being drunk.
This situation can be tricky, but there are some ways to handle it as well.
How to handle the situation
One of the biggest ways to handle most of these situations is preemptively: get a dash camera! Here is a list of recommended dash cameras for rideshare drivers, but anything that records the inside (and outside, if you can) of your car will benefit you (note: please read up on your state’s laws for recording, as some states require you notify people they are being recorded, especially for audio.)
If you feel the passenger can be reasoned with, explain why they have to leave (you’ve arrived at their destination, you have someone else to pick up, etc.) If you feel unsafe, exit your vehicle with your keys and consider calling the cops.
Your vehicle is your property. You have the right to kick your passengers out, especially if they become verbally or physically abusive, or refuse to follow the rules or the law.
Example # 3 - Underage passenger
On the main rideshare platforms of Uber and Lyft, it’s against the terms of service (and against the law) to transport minors without an adult present. Unfortunately, parents don’t often realize it’s a bad idea for them to allow their child to ride in a car with a stranger.
How to handle the situation
Do not pick up the minor. Call the account holder if they are not present and say why you cannot transport their unattended child.
If the parent/guardian tries to argue, inform them that it’s against the TOS for Uber and Lyft and could lead to your deactivation. While it’s hard to know you can’t transport kids (who sometimes don’t have any alternative transportation), there’s just too much risk of deactivation or accusations that you can’t risk.
That said, drivers need to make sure they get paid for these rides. After all, you drove out there and it’s not your fault the passenger violated the TOS. In this case, you can cancel the ride and mark that it was a minor - in most cases, you should get paid using this method.
Another method is to wait out the required time (usually 5 minutes) then cancel the ride as a no show so you can get a cancellation fee.
If you’ve ever worked a job in customer service, chances are you’ve come across some difficult people. If you’re a parent to a toddler or a teenager and you’ve worked customer service, you’re probably going to be great at handling passengers!
Just keep in mind that there are rules you have to follow as a driver. Not everyone will agree with them, but there are Terms of Service from the companies and things in your vehicle that you will and won’t accept.
Make judgments as you drive, but don’t be afraid to put your foot down if necessary. I hope you don’t or rarely encounter these passengers, but if you do, now you know how to handle them!
Harry Campbell is a former Boeing Aerospace Engineer and founder of TheRideshareGuy.com, a blog, podcast and Youtube channel for ridehail drivers and other gig workers and author of, The Rideshare Guide. Over the years, Harry has covered the gig economy industry closely and talked to tens of thousands of drivers and gig workers about their experience on the road.