Rideshare services are still relatively new but have quickly become part of our daily lives, and there are more people driving for rideshare companies like Uber and Lyft than ever. As the industry has grown, dashcams have becomes increasingly popular tools of the trade among Uber and Lyft drivers.
I’ve come up with this list of 8 reasons why Uber and Lyft drivers need a dashcam:
- To catch badly behaved passengers
- To have evidence in case of an accident
- To dispute traffic tickets
- To protect their cars
- To make more money
- To keep them safe
- To keep their rides clean
- To protect their jobs
Some of these reasons apply to more than just rideshare drivers, but the stakes can be higher for those drivers compared to everyone else. Even if you don’t drive for Uber or Lyft yourself, keep reading to find out why getting a dashcam might be a smart idea for you as well.
1. To Catch Badly Behaved Passengers
In any customer service job, you’re going to deal with both polite and not-so-friendly people. Ask anyone who has ever worked as a service representative, taxi driver, or flight attendant, and they’ll tell you some stories of people who thought they could get away with some pretty appalling behavior.
The unfortunate truth is that people are simply better behaved when they know they can’t get away with anything. That logic is why many rideshare drivers have started to use dashcams while they work.
With the rating system that Uber and Lyft use to keep track of the behavior of both drivers and passengers, having a dashcam helps keep everyone in line and can protect drivers’ professional reputation. In the past, when dashcams weren’t so common in rideshare vehicles, there were quite a few publicized incidents of Uber and Lyft drivers having to deal with some pretty poor behavior from their passengers.
As ridesharing grew as an industry, drivers began using online forums as virtual watercoolers to commiserate, exchange stories and share tips and tricks of the trade. The drivers began to develop strategies for dealing with their unruliest and weirdest passengers. One of those ideas was to start using dashcams.
Over the years, as ridesharing became more common, so did dashcams in Uber and Lyft drivers’ cars. Especially because of the apps’ rating systems, drivers would go out of their way to make a good impression on their passengers. Offering extras like bottles of water, charges, and snacks became commonplace.
Many drivers had experiences of people taking advantage of their generosity, or just doing something that made them uncomfortable. Once more drivers began to record the rides they gave, some of the videos of the worst offenders ended up online as drivers wanted to share their craziest stories.
Caught on Camera: The Viral Uber Thief
In on particularly infamous video, one young woman was actually caught stealing from an Uber drivers’ tip jar. That video went viral and, after millions of views online, ended up being discussed on the news, in papers, and on the radio, until the woman was actually identified and criticized to the point that she had to make a public apology.
That’s a pretty extreme example of what can happen if you decide to behave badly on camera, but it definitely played a part in dashcams becoming typical for the ridesharing experience.
Hopefully for the drivers, passengers who have heard about the incident will expect that their driver is using a dashcam and behave like everyone’s watching.
2. To Have Evidence in Case of an Accident
Because an Uber or Lyft driver’s workplace is their car, they spend a lot more time on the road than most other people. That additional time behind the wheel means that they have to take their increased risk of being in a car accident seriously.
With their car is their livelihood, rideshare drivers need to make sure that their cars are out of commission for as little time as possible. And, as most people who have had an accident know, it can be difficult to get auto insurance companies to pay out claims quickly, even when its completely clear the accident wasn’t your fault.
Dashcams can be extremely helpful in helping insurance companies process a claim more quickly. With video evidence of exactly what happened in hand, insurance companies might not have to spend as much time comparing different versions of what happened from each driver or witness, or when looking up any police reports.
For most people, having a dashcam helps speed up how quickly their insurance pays out their claim. In fact, in some countries, Russia in particular, dashcams are frequently used by normal drivers.
But for Uber and Lyft drivers, that convenience would be more like a necessity. Even if their insurance provided them a rental in the meantime, rideshare drivers generally can’t use a car they don’t own to pick up rideshare passengers. The longer they’re without a car, the longer those drivers are not making any money.
Avoiding insurance scams
Another reason for having a dashcam is that rideshare drivers increased risk of accidents also means they have a higher chance of running into car insurance scammers.
It might surprise you to know that there are people who make money causing accidents, often by suddenly stopping so that you hit them from behind, which is the most common technique used. If this happens, since it’s usually a case of he-said-she-said, the insurance processing can take much longer than in a normal accident.
That’s because many of these scammers tend to file bogus lawsuits claiming that they’ve suffered long-term injuries. Usually, they just want (and are aiming for) the insurance company to just settle the claim out of court.
The amount of time it takes to get to that resolution, though, is anything but convenient and means a lot less driving time for the targeted drivers. So, while dashcams could be helpful to any driver in this scenario, Uber and Lyft drivers specifically would be much better off having evidence to avoid lost income.
3. To Dispute Traffic Tickets
The fines and added points that traffic tickets bring are another problem that every driver faces that can have other consequences unique to Uber and Lyft drivers. When normal drivers get a ticket it can mean a higher cost for car insurance, but for rideshare drivers, it can threaten their jobs.
When signing up to be a rideshare driver, part of the application includes allowing the rideshare company to check your driving record. If you have more than a certain number of traffic tickets in a set amount of time, you’re out of luck and can’t drive for that company.
The limit on traffic tickets for rideshare drivers doesn’t stop at the application, though. Uber and Lyft drivers who get too many tickets within three years while driving can get completely removed from the apps.
And while it’s a relatively new idea to traffic courts, if you get an unwarranted traffic ticket, you can have it dismissed by a judge by presenting video evidence from your dashcam. One man used the speedometer tracking feature of his dashcam to prove that he wasn’t speeding when an officer said he was.
Uber and Lyft drivers who want to make sure traffic tickets don’t pile up and threaten their livelihood should get a dashcam. Their relatively low cost is definitely worth still being able to work.
4. To Protect Their Cars
Another benefit of dashcams to Uber and Lyft drivers is theft prevention. Dashcams can help them protect their cars by recording and catching potential car thieves.
You can find many stories about how drivers have used their dashcams, which are able to record twenty-four seven if you choose one with that feature, in order to get an image of someone who stole their car.
Being able to capture a picture of the thief can help police track down your car. Even if that doesn’t work out, you’ll have proof that your car was actually stolen, which will help insurance claims be filed faster to get you a replacement or the payout to buy one.
For rideshare drivers, the faster they get their car back or get a new one, the better it is for their wallets. Dashcams can also help catch vandals. For people who spend so much time in their car, Uber and Lyft drivers might want the extra assurance that a dashcam will help them prove to their insurer how the damage occurred so they can keep their car looking nice.
5. To Make More Money
While all the other reasons so far could apply to other drivers, too, this reason is only relevant to rideshare drivers. Because of the high number of miles that Uber and Lyft drivers travel, their commutes are worth more than just what they make from their passengers.
Startups that are interested in developing maps for eventually programming self-driving cars have realized that Uber and Lyft drivers are a convenient and affordable way for them to gather the data they need.
From one company, the footage from dashcams can now earn Uber and Lyft drivers an extra $3 an hour. That might not sound like much, but when you consider it’s for something they were already doing anyway, it’s hard to pass up. Also, rideshare drivers can still make money during slow hours when there are fewer passengers looking for rides.
6. To Keep Them Safe
As I’ve already mentioned, rideshare drivers, like any job that deals directly with customers, come with unavoidable bad interactions. That’s especially true for Uber and Lyft drivers who are often the designated drivers for people out having a good time and partying for the night.
In fact, Uber and Lyft drivers have openly said that to make the most money, on weekends and evenings they try to “follow the alcohol” in order to find areas with the most people requesting rides.
Unfortunately, for every group of people who are out just having a great time, there are always going to be those who can be aggressive or dangerous to drivers who just want to do their jobs. Uber and Lyft drivers have come forward about the concerns of aggressive passengers making them feel uncomfortable, unsafe or actually attacking them.
It’s a concern for many rideshare drivers, especially since many of their passengers are under the influence of alcohol. While there’s been a lot of discussion of how safe passengers are when using Uber or Lyft, drivers are at risk, too. That’s why dashcams can be a helpful tool in keeping unruly or aggressive passengers in line.
7. To Keep Their Rides Clean
Another issue with being everyone’s designated driver is that you’re going to end up with passengers who just don’t know their limit when drinking. As a result, many Uber and Lyft drivers have had to deal with cleaning up after someone vomiting in their car.
Uber and Lyft have policies in place to charge passengers hefty cleaning fees so drivers can have their cars detailed if this happens. Just like with insurance claims, having proof from dashcams of what happened can stop passengers who don’t want to pay up, from delaying the collection of clean up fees.
All the time that it takes to make sure to get an appointment and have a car detailed is more time off the road when drivers could be making money.
8. To Protect Their Jobs
Bad reviews and false accusations can get them deactivated by Uber and Lyft, which means they can’t make money anymore. As unfortunate as it is, sometimes passengers will make up stories about drivers they didn’t like.
This can happen when drivers refuse to take passengers who have too many people with them or are too drunk to safely transport. In retaliation, those potential passengers can decide to report those drivers to Uber or Lyft.
That places the drivers’ ability to stay on those apps at risk, so having a dashcam to back up their story can be an effective way to make sure their income source is protected. Dashcams have already come in handy in disproving claims of mistreatment by disgruntled passengers.
Considering the cost of a dashcam in comparison to all the potential income that would be lost if a driver was removed from one of the ridesharing apps, these handy cameras seem like they would be a good investment for protecting drivers and their jobs.
What (All) Drivers Should Know Before Getting a Dashcam
Clearly, dashcams have a lot of advantages for both normal and rideshare drivers. And, since there are so many kinds of the market, it should be easy to find one that has the features you want and fits your budget.
In the future, having dashcams might be much more common, especially as, in the UK, people are starting to be able to get discounts from their insurance companies for having a dashcam on board. It seems like a great idea all around, since road raging drivers might think twice about their decisions if they think they’re being recorded.
And it’s certainly interesting to think that ridesharing drivers are helping to provide data that might one day replace their jobs when self-driving cars start to become available in the future. As startup companies work towards that goal, maybe other frequent drivers, like deliverymen, will get the chance to be paid to map their driving.
For drivers who are considering getting a dashcam, all the benefits listed here are good things to consider. Keeping yourself, your passengers, and your car safe is all worth the cost of a dashcam. But, before you go out and buy one make sure you’re not accidentally preparing to do something illegal.
Something that anyone using a dashcam should consider are U.S. individual state laws about recording other people and their conversations, even in a public place.
The majority of U.S. states are considered one-party consent states. That means that only one person has to agree (or know) that a conversation is being recorded. In those states, if you want to have a dashcam on in your car while other people are there, it’s legal for you to do so.
In the 15 states with “all-party consent,” however, that’s not the case. In those places, everyone in the car would have to both know and agree to the recording of what’s going on inside the car. So, if you have the kind of dashcam that a lot of Uber and Lyft drivers use that records the car’s interior, you should make sure how you’re using it is legal.
There’s a lot to consider when discussing how dashcams can and have changed the driving experience, both in rideshare and personal cars. Who knows? If the trend of using dashcams continues to rise, maybe they’ll become so commonplace they’ll come as standard equipment in new cars!