Chances are, you’ve taken an Uber before – 95 million people used the app monthly in 2018 alone. And that’s just one of the ride-sharing apps that you have to choose from when you need to get somewhere. Whether you prefer Uber or one of its main competitors, Lyft, you know what it’s like to be a passenger in these modern taxis. But what’s it like to be behind the wheel of a rideshare vehicle? As it turns out, Uber and Lyft drivers have a lot to say about their experiences. These are 40 of their most surprising thoughts, tips and secrets.
40. Your post-ride rating matters – a lot
After your Uber or Lyft ride finishes, you have a chance to rate and compliment your driver. Of course, you shouldn’t bulk up your review if the ride was truly terrible. Otherwise, you should keep in mind that it matters how many stars you give. An anonymous driver told website Popsugar in 2017, “If you rate us less than five stars, it’s as if you’re asking the company to fire us slowly. Drivers are deactivated if their rating falls below 4.5 or 4.6.”
39. Drivers want better small talk
You slide into the backseat of your Uber or Lyft… what’s next? As it turns out, your driver’s probably hoping it’s not one of the questions they’re asked over and over again. One Reddit user admitted, “It sometime[s] can be annoying to answer the same questions over and over again. Pretty much every person asks, ‘So, how long have you been doing this?’ Do you like it?… Is this your only job?’” Skip those inquiries so that everyone has a more pleasant journey.
38. It’s not up to you when to disembark from the vehicle
Whether you’re stuck in traffic or close enough to walk, you may have the sudden urge to jump out of your Lyft or Uber. Don’t do it, drivers say – they really hate it when passengers exit unexpectedly, especially with other cars around. One BuzzFeed Community commenter explained simply, “If you want to get out then let me pull over to the safest and nearest place.”
37. Your driver doesn’t want to make extra stops — most of the time
Many Uber and Lyft drivers secretly complain about passengers who ask for multiple stops once they get in the car. If you want drinks, food, cigarettes or anything else along the way, your best bet is hiring one ride to take you to the shop, then ordering another to get you home. Nevertheless, you can convince some rideshare drivers to stop for the things you need: some admit to accepting cash tips to sit in drive-through lanes or parking lots.
36. Cash tips go a long way
On that note, a cash tip can seriously ingratiate you with your Lyft or Uber driver. Not only might they be willing to stop along the way, they’ll probably give you a perfect rating after your journey too. An anonymous driver admitted to Popsugar, “Although this isn’t an official company policy, if you tip in cash instead of through the app, your driver will always give you five stars.”
35. Try and tip after a Lyft Line or Uber Pool ride
The whole point of ride-sharing is that, well, you share your ride. Lyft Line and Uber Pool allow you to carpool other passengers headed in the same direction. It saves you money too – but it’s not a win for everyone. According to the Popsugar source, a driver gets paid for the miles they travel, not for the additional passengers they pick up. They’d make more if they picked you all up separately, so try and tip them in exchange for the cheaper service.
34. Don’t use your app to order a ride for someone else
Uber and Lyft driver Clarke Bowman shared a week in his life behind the wheel with Business Insider in 2018, revealing a few secrets along the way. On his journey, he got a ride request from a female customer but arrived to find a man flagging down his car. Bowman wrote, “This happens somewhat frequently, where someone will order a ride for someone else. I personally don’t like it, because I don’t know exactly who is getting in my car.”
33. You can’t bring a little one without a car seat
Bowman’s tale of his Uber-driving journey continued with the male passenger stopping at a daycare and attempting to get back into the car with a child – with no car seat. The man tried to convince the driver that it was fine, but Bowman didn’t budge. Instead, he wrote, “No. It’s not fine. It is really, really, not fine… I’m not going to jail, nor am I going to be in one of those statistics, all for five bucks.”
32. Going to sit in the front seat? Think again
In a packed car, you may have no other choice but to sit in the front seat – and that’s okay. If you have the car to yourself, though, most Uber and Lyft drivers prefer that you sit in the back. That’s especially the case if they have their personal belongings in the front seat. At the very least, one BuzzFeed Community user wrote, “Just ask first!”
31. Uber and Lyft drivers gossip about you
Okay, maybe not – your rideshare driver won’t have much to say if you’re a picture-perfect customer. But Uber and Lyft staffers do have online groups on Facebook, for example, where they vent about nightmarish riders and experiences. They use these community boards to share advice as well, but if you cause a ruckus, your tale might be featured too.
30. Party lights in the car? It’s all for the five-star rating
Picking up partiers means an Uber or Lyft might get lost in the blur that a night becomes. So to ensure a memorable, five-star ride – and perhaps nab a few tips – drivers make their cars more memorable with lights. New York City Uber driver Kahseem Panchoo told website Mental Floss in 2019 that he got a $100 tip once, thanks to his disco ball and floor lights.
29. No spoilers!
Perhaps you just watched the series finale of your favorite TV show, or you and your best friend caught a late-night showing of the newest Marvel movie. No matter what, save any spoiler-related conversations for outside of your rideshare. Your Uber or Lyft driver may not have seen the show yet, and, needless to say, they’re not happy when they overhear unexpected plot points.
28. Your rideshare ≠ an ambulance
Healthcare’s notoriously expensive in America, and that includes emergency ambulance rides to the hospital. So some people try and forego the exorbitant cost by taking a much cheaper Uber or Lyft to the ER. Needless to say, drivers don’t like this, and they won’t let someone in who’s passed out or bleeding. Nevertheless, some might still drive you to the hospital if your symptoms are less severe.
27. Your Uber driver shouldn’t have a side hustle
Outside of the car, of course, your Uber driver can pursue any other career that they’d like. But once an employee gets behind the wheel to drive, all sales should cease – the company has a strict policy against this. It’s up to you whether or not to bring a driver’s side hustle to light, but know that they can get in serious trouble if corporate finds out.
26. Lidless cups are the things of a rideshare driver’s nightmares
Most Uber or Lyft drivers won’t mind if you bring a drink with you in the car. In fact, some will have complimentary bottles of water for you to sip. However, many draw the line at open containers that can spill all over the vehicle. One driver wrote on Reddit that it “doesn’t matter what’s in it, [it’s] still a no-no in my car.”
25. No need to direct the driver – they have GPS for that
A great convenience of ride-sharing apps is the fact that you plug in your destination on your end, which provides a map to the driver taking you there. Consequently, there’s no need to give directions when you’re in an Uber or Lyft, and some employees confess that they hate customers who do so. One driver wrote on Reddit, “The only time you should be offering me directions is if I ask you for them.”
24. Forgot something in the car? It’s probably gone forever…
Always check the seat behind you when you slide out of an Uber or Lyft. If you leave something behind, your driver’s unlikely to bring it back. It’s not because they’ve stolen your items either. In most cases, they’ve previously made the effort without receiving a tip or even a thank you from customers, so they realize it’s not worth it.
23. … Unless you tip in cash, then your driver might return the favor
As previously mentioned, a cash tip makes an impression on your Uber or Lyft driver. If you’re prone to leaving things behind, then start pulling out your wallet at the end of each ride. An anonymous driver explained to Popsugar, “Drivers do remember the passengers who tip in cash because they are few and far between. Those people are far more likely to have their items returned.”
22. Traffic doesn’t equate to a bigger payday for your driver
In a metered cab, you’d watch your fare tick upward while you sat in traffic. The same doesn’t go for Ubers and Lyfts, though. Instead, drivers make $0.10 per minute or less as they wait for the congestion to clear. In other words, they hate these jams as much as you do – and they’d never purposefully guide you into traffic to make more money, because they don’t.
Image: RoBeDeRo/Getty Images
21. No one wants to hear your conversations or videos
Uber and Lyft drivers expect their passengers to have proper phone etiquette. Namely, they don’t want to listen to what you’re doing on your phone in the backseat. One BuzzFeed Community user explained, “I don’t really care if you’re on your phone the whole time, but please keep it down. And please use a headset if you are watching videos.”
20. Be gentle with the door
Some rideshare drivers will issue a warning as you get out of the car, requesting that you be gentle when closing the door. Even if they don’t, though, you should try and do so without using too much force. One driver who had been behind the wheel for only two weeks confessed via Reddit that door-slamming had already “become a pet peeve.”
19. Drivers don’t want to give you the aux
Sometimes, Uber or Lyft drivers will offer to play your music in the car. If they don’t, though, refrain from asking if you can hook up to their stereo system. One rideshare employee said on Reddit, “I always say ‘no.’ It’s not for them to use.” The same driver did say they’d find middle ground by “turn[ing] the [radio] station to something they want.”
18. Sometimes, drivers prep playlists customized to their passengers
The same rideshare driver who wouldn’t share the auxiliary input had another solution for customized music. They wrote on Reddit, “I actually have different playlists that I created with Spotify. Each one is catered to a different age range, and I change playlists multiple times a shift depending on what the customer looks like.” According to the driver, the setup has led to lots of compliments, and it ensures that they’re not stuck listening to the passenger’s terrible tunes.
17. Only a fraction of the ride’s price goes to the driver
Some passengers might not tip a driver because they think the overall cost of the journey goes directly into their pocket – and that’s incorrect. As it turns out, the price quote you receive before you book your ride is about 60 percent more than what the Uber or Lyft driver gets paid.
16. A new driver’s probably driving you
Most rideshare drivers don’t stay on the road for very long – most quit Uber or Lyft after a half-year or less due to poor profits. Clearly, these companies have a high rate of turnover as newbies replace those who have deleted the app. This pattern means you’re probably driving with someone new every time you book a ride.
15. Want a curbside pickup at the airport? Your driver knows you do
Plenty of airports have designated meeting points for rideshare services, which are often a bit further from the regular terminal pick-up lanes. So don’t try and get curbside service – your driver can’t stand it. One wrote on Reddit that their pet peeve was “airport [passengers who] play the ‘I can’t find you’ game and think I’ll just cave and pick up in front instead of the pick-up area.”
14. More than four riders? Order two cars, please
It’s your Uber or Lyft driver’s job to follow the laws of the road. Among other must-dos, these rules stipulate that every rider must have a seat belt – therefore, only four passengers can ride in a car. And that’s precisely why it bothers your rideshare driver when you try and sneak extra people into the vehicle. As one put it to Reddit, “Last I checked I don’t drive a VW bug, and the circus isn’t in town.”
13. Get the address right the first time
Before you order your Lyft or Uber, you type the destination’s address into the app and double-check that you have everything right before pressing send. As it turns out, lots of people get it wrong, and then they get mad at their drivers for taking them to the wrong place. And, unsurprisingly, rideshare employees don’t like to deal with customers’ anger when they end up in the incorrect location.
12. If you throw up, your driver turns a big profit
It’s certainly unpleasant for an Uber or Lyft driver to listen to a passenger vomiting in the backseat of their car. But there can be a silver lining to such a nasty experience: the apps charge customers big time for barfing. Uber driver Nichole Visnesky told Mental Floss that she earned $80 in damages for a vomit stain, “but I probably didn’t spend more than a few dollars to clean it.”
11. It’s a rideshare service, not a school bus
Rideshare policies typically stipulate that riders must be at least 18, unless they’re in the car with a parent or another adult. Nevertheless, people still try and request rides for their little ones, then place them into the vehicle sans grown-up. Most Uber or Lyft drivers will refuse to do so, so find an alternative method of transportation for your brood.
10. Don’t make your driver wait – they make pennies for it
Only order your Uber or Lyft when you’re fully ready to go. Otherwise, leaving your driver outside and making them wait for you means that they’re making a paltry amount of money for doing it. One rideshare driver told Popsugar that they received $0.10 or less per minute of waiting.
9. Grocery shopping? No thanks
Uber and Lyft drivers cringe when they see a request come in from a passenger waiting for pick-up at a grocery store. Loading the bags, replacing the cart, stopping at other shops for missed items… all of it adds up to lots of long wait times, which don’t come with a great pricetag. If you do order a ride with all of your bags, try and tip your driver for their patience.
8. Don’t start ridesharing without a referral code
If you’re not one of the millions of people who use Uber and Lyft, then you’re in luck. First-timers get great discounts when they open a new account on the app. You can ask someone who already uses your rideshare service of choice, and they can send you a coupon code too. As a bonus, they’re likely to get a credit toward their next ride – a win-win for everyone.
7. Surges are the worst for you and the best for drivers
When Ubers or Lyfts are in high demand, you get surge pricing, which raises regular ride costs by a particular percentage. Perhaps the app says you’ll pay two times the normal price for your ride during the surge. You might groan, but this is great news for your driver. If you pay double, they make two times more. Consequently, some rideshare employees only drive during surges to make the most of their time behind the wheel.
6. Download both Uber and Lyft to find the best price
When you log onto Uber and see surge pricing, you might not have to pay such a high cost for your ride. Their prices tend to spike more often than Lyft, so drivers suggest you download both apps. That way, you can compare prices and find the cheaper option for you.
5. Google Maps can also reveal the best deal
Google knows that its customers drive, walk and take public transit, so it has integrated all of these modes of transportation into its Maps app’s interface. It has also included multiple rideshare apps, including Uber and Lyft, as well as the estimated price of each service. So log onto Google Maps first, type in your destination and see which rideshare app will get you to point B the cheapest.
4. Only complain if there’s truly an issue
Uber and Lyft want to keep their passengers coming back for more rides. So if you file a complaint about a seriously poor experience, the apps are likely to give you credit as a means to assuage the situation. However, some clients abuse this power, which can have serious consequences for the driver. Not only do these complaints bring down their star rating, but the companies can also take money back from the driver in exchange for the passenger’s promised credit.
3. Some drivers secretly like it when you cancel
Once you’ve requested a ride and secured a driver, you will have to pay a fee if you cancel. You might worry that such a decision will annoy your driver – think again. Uber takes a percentage of what you pay for cancellation, but the rest goes to the driver. Lyft employees pocket 100 percent of the $5 fee, so they don’t mind at all.
2. Drivers seem to prefer Lyft to Uber
An anonymous driver who spoke to Popsugar revealed that they found Lyft to be superior to Uber. Where they found Uber to be “ethically questionable,” Lyft soared as a “socially responsible company.” For example, Lyft has donated free rides for cancer patients to get to their medical appointments, and they matched passenger tips with donations to the charity Meals on Wheels.
1. With the right planning, drivers can make serious cash
As of April 2019, rideshare driver Jay Cradeur had worked for Uber and Lyft for 3.5 years and completed 23,600 rides, according to ABC7 News. With a fine-tuned strategy – which he shares on his website, The Rideshare Guy – he has raked in a serious amount of money. Specifically, he made $100,000 per year for his first three behind the wheel, working 50 hours a week and taking six weeks of vacation a year. Not too shabby.