So you want to sign up and drive for Uber and Lyft? Before you hit the road, check out these tips about how to make your first week or month of driving smooth and headache-free.
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.
Every day new people are signing up to drive for Uber and Lyft. It’s a very flexible gig, with the ability to earn money fairly quickly, and there’s no commitment to stay. If you want to work for a few weeks or a full year, it’s up to you!
I still remember the first time I went out and how nervous I was to drive. I had a lot of questions, and no one to answer them.
Here are the top tips I wish someone had shared with me before I started driving.
Try The App Out First As a Customer
The biggest thing that separates savvy drivers from others is preparation. A very simple thing that most new drivers do not do, but should, is to take a ride on the app you’re planning on driving with.
Even if you don’t really need to, just use it for a short trip so you can see what it’s like from the passenger's side of things. See what it looks like for passengers when they request a ride, see the prices they pay, see what the driver does that you like, or better yet, what you don’t like.
I took an Uber in Orlando a few years ago while I was in town for a conference. I legitimately was concerned I wasn’t going to make it. The driver was taking his phone out, reading text messages, sending replies, at one point he even answered his phone while driving. Not only is that illegal, but it’s also unsafe and made me uncomfortable.
Most of us know not to do those things. But it’s little things like the back seat isn’t perfect, or the music level is too loud, or the driver is chewing gum and it bothers you. Whatever it is, by taking a ride as a passenger you can see what things you would not do as a driver.
Alternatively, you may see a certain kind of charger for your car, or the coolest way to set up an aux cable for passengers to plug into. Or you could ask the driver for tips and tricks specific to your area.
Pro-tip: Ask a friend for their referral code/link or look for one online so that you can get your first few rides at a discounted price.
Get Comfortable With The App Before You Drive.
Once you’re approved to drive, tap on everything but “go”. Look at ways the app allows you to get help when needed. Check the settings, promotions, and make sure you set up and connect your bank account!
I still remember a friend of mine I referred to Uber: he drove for about three weeks, then finally asked me “when do we get paid?” He had never connected his bank account to Uber and thought it would be directly deposited… somehow!
Don’t be afraid of the app! Even if you accidentally hit the ‘go’ button, you don’t have to accept a ride and you can always go offline immediately. Get used to what’s in your app by clicking around and checking it out. I promise it will make your first day of driving that much easier!
Track Your Miles
I think the biggest mistake most new drivers make is they don’t track their miles. This is the number one thing to do to make sure you don’t get hit with a big tax bill at the end of the year. It does not have to be complicated at all - in fact, you can check out RSG’s recommended apps to track your mileage to make it easy!
Before I even knew about these apps, I first used a pen and paper to track my mileage the old-fashioned way. Many drivers still do this, but whether you use an app or pen and paper, the key is to stick with it!
Nowadays I use the Stride app to track my mileage and more for tax time. Stride is free, runs in the background tracking mileage, and you can even input other costs, like car washes and subscriptions. It’s very clean and makes it easy at tax time to pull everything up and input my numbers!
Park While Waiting and Bring Something To Do
When you first start driving, it can be a little weird at first. You’re not a taxi, and people will not call you off the street while you’re driving around.
This means when you don’t have a passenger in the car, you may have some downtime. In these cases, I don’t recommend driving around to get a ping. Instead, park and even turn off your car to conserve gas.
If you’re driving during busy times (get to know your city for these times, but typically it’s the weekends and rush hour) you shouldn’t have to wait long, but it’s helpful to bring something to listen to or even do while you’re waiting.
This is a great time to find a bathroom, stretch, and give your eyes a break from driving. Many drivers bring word searches (or Wordle!), a tablet to read, homework if they’re in school - the possibilities are endless! It can be exciting to “go, go, go” when you first start driving, but it’s a recipe for burnout. Find a spot, take a break, then hit the road again when you’re ready.
Bring Snacks and Drinks
Finally, save yourself some money. Bring snack bars, and bottled water so you’re not spending the money you’re making at fast food or a convenience store. This is a big deal because, in their excitement, many first-time drivers head out without these things… then spend a lot of their time stopping to buy overpriced water and snacks.
Savvy drivers, especially ones that know they will be on the road for several hours, pack a small cooler with sandwiches, chips, fruit, and drinks. You’ll thank me later for this advice!
New drivers often get caught up in the excitement of driving for rideshare but overlook some commonsense and not-so-commonsense advice to their detriment. It’s a recipe for burnout if you’re so focused on driving that you don’t get to know your app, remember to take breaks, and know some basics about driving in your city.
With these tips, you’re ahead of the curve as a new driver!
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.