Driving for rideshare and delivery companies during the winter can be tricky - if you’re not prepared. Here’s what drivers need to know about hitting the road this winter.
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.
For many people, winter driving is no walk in the park. It can be dangerous and a lot of factors are out of your control. However, when rideshare driving, picking up passengers in the winter can be a lucrative way to earn more. You’re almost guaranteed to keep busy on snowy days and cold days due to others not wanting to drive or the dreaded “car didn’t start this morning.”
So, how do you navigate through the wintry months as a rideshare driver while keeping your head and making as much dough as you can? Let’s find out.
Heavy snow = fewer drivers
A lot of passengers will choose not to drive their own vehicles, but the same is true for many rideshare drivers. Many will shy away from snowy days, which means you’ll be able to rake in more money if you’re confident in your winter driving skills and have a car that is equipped and prepared.
We reached out to RSG contributor Paula Gibbins who is based in Minnesota (so is an expert at snow driving!) and she suggests “keeping a shovel in your trunk along with kitty litter (to put down for traction if you get stuck) and always make sure your wiper fluid is rated for low temperatures and fully stocked before you hit the road.”
An important thing to note about winter driving is you may need to practice a lot of patience. Not only is it going to take you longer to get to your passengers, but also it will take longer to drop them off.
Slow and steady wins the race in this kind of situation. The ones who try to go too fast either end up in a ditch or put other people in the ditch.
If the road is wet, assume it’s slippery and leave enough space in front of you to stop. No one will be able to stop on a dime when it’s slippery outside. So start slowing down for stop signs and lights well in advance of the intersection. If you can’t stop, assume everyone else can’t either and take measures to safely pull over if you need to.
Here’s RSG Contributor Chris Gerace with a quick video PSA for snow-driving!
Know which roads to avoid
Some cities are great about plowing and salting/sanding. Others, not so much. And some just completely ignore side roads altogether, leaving them a sloppy mess with ice ruts as deep as a foot.
Many drivers have shared their horror stories about getting stuck on side roads - or even apartment parking lots that hadn’t been properly cleared. If you have any hesitation before heading down an icy or snowy street or complex, listen to your inner warnings and have your passenger meet you outside!
Keep your car stocked with provisions and extra blankets/clothing
We all saw what happened earlier this winter with the traffic jam/standstill in Virginia, stranding hundreds of drivers, some for 24 hours or longer. Many people ran out of food and water by the end. It could have gotten really ugly if the shutdown lasted too much longer.
It’s always a good idea to bring water and snacks with you when you drive because you don’t always get the chance to go offline for a quick break. Especially in the winter, it’s a good idea to have some space blankets and a first aid kit on hand, just in case.
Prepare your vehicle
Some drivers recommend getting snow tires and maybe even putting chains on your tires if you’re going out in a storm. That way, you’re sure to get more traction and have better chances of helping people get where they need to go.
To go along with this, something you might want to consider getting for your vehicle is rubber weather mats that are easy to clean. Check out the Rideshare Guy’s list of Best Gifts for Uber Drivers to see what mats they recommend.
Passengers will be climbing into your vehicle with snow and muck-covered boots and shoes. It’ll be a good idea to keep your car mats cleaned on a regular basis throughout the winter. Also consider getting a subscription to a car wash service in your area. You can typically find unlimited car wash sites that will clean your vehicle inside and out for a monthly fee.
And, of course, we always recommend drivers have dash cams installed. During snow storms, you might be more likely to get into an accident. Your dash cam will act as an unbiased truth-teller in any situation inside and outside of your vehicle. Here’s a vetted list of the best dash cams for Uber and Lyft drivers.
Know your abilities and limits
The most important thing is knowing what you’re capable of. If you are not comfortable driving in the snow, then please DON’T. It’s not worth the risk if you’re not comfortable behind the wheel. You’ll be more likely to make mistakes and make your passengers nervous. Passengers want someone who feels confident and comfortable driving through the snow; not someone who is white-knuckling it the whole way.
You’ll still have plenty of opportunities to earn during the winter months. Not every day is going to yield a snowstorm. So, sit tight and wait for the plows to do their thing and try venturing out when the roads are mostly dry and the weather is clear.
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.