As the popularity of Uber and other ridesharing services (Lyft, Fasten, Safr) take off, and the companies boast their positive impact on the economy, many drivers have eagerly cashed in on the craze. Uber recently hit their two-billion-rides mark and they complete around 5 million rides per day. There are over 500,000 rideshare drivers in the United States.
You can be one of those drivers, too.
If you’ve harbored a curiosity about life in the Uber driver’s seat over the course of countless rides and news headlines, perhaps it’s time to seriously consider donning the driver title. Read this rundown of the key requirements and considerations to see whether you’d thrive behind the ridesharing wheel.
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Becoming a Driver Can Be Uber Easy!
Drivers for UberX, the most affordable Uber option (also UberPool), use their personal vehicles to transport passengers. In order to sign up as an UberX driver, you must meet a few requirements:
- You are at least 21 years old
- You have a valid in-state driver’s license
- You have at least 3 years of driving experience
- You have a 4-door vehicle in great condition that is year 2001 or newer and has an in-state license plate
- You have in-state personal auto insurance in your name and an in-state car registration (does not have to be in your name)
- You have a Social Security Number for a background check
Upon signing up with Uber, note that you will need to provide your vehicle information, including your license plate number so that passengers can identify your car. You’ll also be subject to a background check. Make sure that in the past seven years you have not had any of the following violations: DUI/DWI offense, driving without insurance or driver's license, fatal accidents, reckless driving or a criminal history.
All Uber ride notifications and transactions take place via mobile phone. You can choose to use your own personal smartphone or to rent a phone from Uber for $10 a week if you are concerned about data usage.
Your Income Is Questionable...
In their May release, Uber estimated driver incomes for New York City and San Francisco: “the median income on uberX is more than $90,000/year/driver in New York City and more than $74,000/year/driver in San Francisco.” Tempting, no?
Unfortunately for prospective Uber drivers, this robust annual income estimate might be too good to be true. Drivers and news outlets like Business Insider have disputed the number, stating that the data is based on drivers who work over 40 hours per week and doesn’t account for costs like gas, tolls, and Uber’s 20% cut of the profit.
Furthermore, job security may be a concern going forward. Autonomous vehicles and self-driving cars could have the potential to eliminate drivers but this isn't likely to happen for a long time.
...but the Perks Are Plenty.
Despite the contested salary, there’s a reason (well, a lot of reasons) that thousands of drivers flocked to Uber. The list of pros includes:
- No boss, your hours: Being able to work whenever you want, even in the wee hours of the morning if you so desire, has an undeniable charm. Many Uber drivers are drawn to the flexibility that comes with setting their schedule.
- Car comfort: In addition to choosing their hours, UberX drivers also work from the comfort of their own car, a perk that some ex-taxi drivers have pointed out when explaining their switch to ridesharing.
- International appeal: Uber is currently available in over 60 countries and is expanding to new cities. Driving with Uber is a source of income that you could take with you if you decide to relocate, domestically or internationally.
- Carpooling is growing: More consumers are looking to carpool to save money and Uber meets their needs with the UberPool program. One recent study even found that UberPool or Lyft sharing could eliminate NYC's 14,000 taxis with just 3,000 vehicles.
- Good samaritans: From the start, Uber hypothesized that their service reduced the amount of impaired driving. To prove it, they built an econometric model to tracking their impact on impaired driving rates. The results show that their presence in Seattle reduced DUI arrests by 10%. One Uber driver was even able to stop a serious crime.
Don’t Forget to Cover Your Bases
If you’re convinced that Uber driving is for you, make sure you take the right safety precautions before you pick up your first passenger.
First things first, verify that your personal insurance is in order. Uber’s commercial insurance covers drivers while there are passengers in the car, but this insurance will not cover you when you’re not explicitly on the clock for the company. There’s a complicated relationship between ridesharing and insurance; educate yourself on how it works before committing to an Uber career. Once you start driving for hire, your personal auto insurance may not be enough. Recently, some car insurance providers are offering specific policies that help fill the gap between your personal insurance and Uber's commercial. Try speaking to your carrier, or switch, to receive the coverage you need. It is your best interest to not start driving for Uber until you know that you have adequate insurance coverage. Talk to your agent, ask Uber any questions you have, and determine what types of insurance are best for you.
In addition, properly maintaining your car can greatly decrease your risk of getting in an accident. Keep yourself and your passengers safe by keeping up with repairs and check-ups. Get frequent oil changes and keep your car inspected. It's also a good idea to check your windshield washer fluid regularly, especially if you are driving during the winter months.
Still ready to rideshare the road as an Uber driver? You can sign up here.