Rideshare companies like Uber and Lyft have provided hundreds of thousands of people with a new way to make money. Whether they see driving for these companies as a way to supplement their income or a way to leave their old jobs behind entirely, more and more people have signed up to be rideshare drivers.
However, sitting for hours on end can take its toll on the drivers, so it’s important for them to find the right balance between getting the fares they need for a shift to be profitable, and taking care of themselves.
Here are a few tips to keep your rideshare driving successful and sustainable.
The Best Habits for a Smooth Ridesharing Shift
Driving can seem easy enough when you don’t have to do it for all that long, but spending hours sitting in a cramped space while having to stay alert and focused offers some real challenges. Cultivating a few good habits makes a big difference.
1. Don’t sit all day
Working a little bit of movement into your shifts in between rides will make you healthier, help you stay comfortable longer, and keep you alert for more of your shift.
This is a top piece of advice from Harry Campbell, The Rideshare Guy.
“One of the best techniques I’ve found is to get up and stretch or even walk around in between rides,” he explains. “Even if you only have a couple minutes of down time, sitting in the exact same place for hours on end is bad for your body. So just getting up and moving for a minute or two can keep you driving until late in the night.”
2. Drink plenty of water
This was another tip many rideshare drivers provided, but it’s also just good life advice. Two-thirds of Americans don’t drink enough water and it’s easy to forget if you don’t actively make a point to remember.
Fill a big water bottle before each time you leave the house and keep it close enough to take sips as you go. You might also want to stock up on water bottles to keep in your car for times you don’t get a chance to refill. And having water to offer to your riders (especially those that have been drinking) is a nice side benefit of having bottles on hand.
Stay hydrated has its effects, however, so make sure you have your restroom stops mapped out!
3. Watch your posture
Sitting all day isn’t great for your body in general, but it’s worse if you spend all that time with bad posture. Adjust the seat properly so that you have a comfortable amount of legroom and the tilt of the seatback supports your back, while being upright enough to keep you alert and focused. YourMechanic.com has great recommendations:
- Adjust the car seat back. First, center yourself completely into the driver’s seat and sit up tall in your seat. It is recommended to adjust the “rake” of your seat back so that you are sitting as straight up as possible, and parallel to the steering wheel, to help prevent back pain. When adjusting your seat, keep your bottom and back centered and completely inside the seat.
- Adjust the car seat position. As far as seat position, this should always be adjusted in relation to the pedals. Use your seats various adjustment levers or switches your raise your seat up or down, or move it forward or back to ensure your legs are parallel to the ground when sitting and when the brake pedal is fully depressed, your legs should still have a bend in them of about 120 degrees.
- Adjust the car steering wheel position. Finally, adjust your steering wheel for proper reach and access. While it’s not your driver’s seat, having a properly adjusted steering wheel will ensure you remain in the most comfortable, and safe, seated position as possible while driving. Place your wrist over the top of the steering wheel. To properly adjust, with your arm straight and not using too much effort, you should be able to place the wrist flat over the wheel while keeping your shoulder blades firmly placed against your seat back.
- Utilize built-in lumbar support (if available). If your vehicle has built-in power lumbar support, don’t forget to use it. Start with the lumbar support at a low level, and increase support as driving time lengthens.
- Look for added neck support. Your neck is one often overlooked pain during driving, and several neck support pillows and products are available to help support your head and reduce pain while driving. Fully adjust your headrest, if possible, for maximum comfort and if additional support is needed consider looking for a neck pillow or support that is vehicle approved.
You can also purchase different pieces to add to your seat to provide lumbar support, memory-foam seat cushioning, or even heat in cold climates.
4. Wear comfy clothes and shoes
Avoid wearing tight pants or shirts. Loose clothing is better for circulation and will generally be more comfortable. Consider buying compression socks to wear while driving to improve the blood flow in your legs. They help avoid aches and swelling and reduce the risk of blood clots.
5. Avoid junk food (it easily becomes a habit)
Fast food is a super easy food option during a shift, but if it becomes your go-to every time you work, it will be bad for both your energy levels during the shift and your overall health.
Instead, bring healthy snacks like nuts or fruit with you for each shift. Jot down a list of healthy restaurants or grocery stores in the areas of town you work in and stick with those when you get hungry during a shift.
You many want to keep what you eat and when in mind as you choose your sustenance. Some passengers may not like their driver eating while driving them around – for safety or cleanliness purposes – and some food may leave a smell long after you’re finished eating.
6. Get enough sleep
Drivers with fewer than four hours of sleep crash at 11.5 times the rate of those with 7 hours or more.
Drowsy driving puts both you and your passengers in danger. On top of that, being tired makes your rides unpleasant and harder to get through. Only work when you’ve had plenty of sleep.
7. Chat with your passengers
Talking to your riders (assuming they want to talk – don’t force it) functions as a way to stay alert, make connections, and make the time fly.
According to Uber and Lyft driver Robert Kellner, “the way to get through the long days of driving is to engage your riders. Ask them for their favorite quotes and you will be sure to have an inspired day.”
You’ll both get more out of the experience of being a rideshare driver, and a rider you make a connection with is more likely to give you a good rating.
Plus: Make your car rideshare-ready
In addition to having good habits, getting the right supplies will go a long way toward improving your experience as a rideshare driver.
Here’s a checklist of items every driver should make a point of purchasing and keeping in the car:
- Phone charger –Arguably the most important item on the list since if your phone dies, you can’t work
- Phone mount – To easily see the route the app provides as you drive
- Weatherproof mats – Keep the floor of your car in good condition longer
- Vomit bags – Gross, yes, but if you do late night shifts, having them is better than not
- Air freshener – Keeps the rider experience (and yours) pleasant
- Wet wipes – To do basic cleaning between rides (especially on muddy days)
- A towel – For potential spills or other messes you have to deal with
- Rideshare insurance — Your personal auto insurance might not cover you completely. Check with your company to better understand where coverage ends and begins.
Being prepared will help you keep your car in good condition for longer and enable you to provide a good ride experience for your customers every time.
If you’re planning to branch into the world of rideshare driving, these habits and supplies will make it easier to do your job better for longer, and will probably help you get more of those 5-star ratings you need.