“Uber and/or Lyft” has replaced “taxi” in the modern lexicon for ride-for-hire. Whether a person needs some wheels to get to the airport or a safe ride home after one-too-many drinks, “Uber and/or Lyft” has increasingly become the generic word for calling a ride.
Why do Uber drivers lock their doors? Uber drivers lock their doors for a variety of reasons, including the following:
- To ensure ride accuracy
- To prevent escalating situations
- To preempt potential litigation
As Uber continues to take a more substantial chunk of the traditional taxi market share, both drivers and passengers need to recognize and understand the norms and best practices within the industry.
Why Uber Drivers Lock Their Doors
While some irritated customers may view locked Ubers as annoying, unnecessary, or even creepy, the savvy Uber driver will always keep his or her doors locked.
Locked Uber Doors Ensure Ride Accuracy
A significant amount of Uber pick-ups will occur in crowded downtown streets. These riders are often frustrated and in a hurry to get where they’re going. They’re likely to jump to conclusions and assume that any yielding vehicle with an Uber sticker belongs to them.
On a similar note, Uber sees an uptick in business at closing time for the bars. As these customers are more likely to be under the influence, they may not be as sharp in recognizing or remembering the make and model of the vehicle Uber is sending.
Both of these scenarios create an increased likelihood that a customer would get into the wrong Uber.
Getting into the wrong Uber can cause a myriad of issues. When the person who called the Uber realizes that his or her Uber was taken by someone else, any of the following undesirable outcomes could take place:
- Payment for the ride may get canceled or disputed
- Ratings for both the driver and rider could be negatively affected
- Those riding in the incorrect Uber end up in the wrong location
To ensure that the driver is picking up the correct passenger, it is a best practice for the Uber driver to keep his or her doors locked upon arrival at the pick-up location, roll down the window of the vehicle, and confirm that the name of the waiting rider matches that shown on the app.
Locked Uber Doors Prevent Escalating Situations
Upon arrival at the pick-up location, the Uber driver may encounter unsafe, threatening, or generally undesirable passengers waiting for a ride.
Maybe there is a situation in which domestic partners are engaged in a heated argument. By the time the partners bring their argument into the Uber, it could evolve into a full-scale domestic violence situation that would require police intervention.
Perhaps the driver encounters a customer who is way too intoxicated. If this customer vomits in the vehicle, they will be charged a hefty clean-up fee, which passengers aren’t typically eager to pay. Then there is also the possibility that an overly intoxicated passenger could blackout and become unresponsive.
When a driver arrives at the scene of an escalating situation, it is much easier to keep the passengers out of the Uber in the first place than attempt to remove them after they have gained entry. Therefore, the savvy Uber driver will keep the doors locked until he or she is sure that there is no threat of an escalating situation, leaving such scenarios for the proper authorities to deal with.
Locked Uber Doors Preempt Potential Litigation
As an Uber driver, it is good practice to make sure that any potential hazards are avoided before commencing the trip.
The most common liability scenario arises when a group of six people tries to save money by fitting itself into a four-passenger sedan. The Uber driver must have enough seatbelts to accommodate each rider. A major lawsuit could be filed if an accident were to occur while too many people were crammed into the Uber.
However, as mentioned in the last section, it can be difficult to get people out of the vehicle, especially when they have creatively figured out a way to fit themselves in. It’s best to keep the doors locked until the driver can be sure that he or she has enough seatbelts for the number of passengers waiting.
Another potential liability situation occurs when a passenger is accompanied by a small child that needs a car seat. If the Uber driver does not have a car seat installed in the vehicle, it is incumbent upon the rider to provide the car seat. Some parents will not be properly prepared.
The Uber driver should keep the doors locked until they can be reasonably certain the child will be secured in a child restraint seat.
Finally, it is smart for the Uber driver to keep all doors locked until he or she can be certain that waiting passengers are not carrying any substances, weapons, or animals that may damage their vehicle and possible threaten current or future riders.
Why Uber Drivers Lock Their Doors During the Ride
Thanks to the horror films Hollywood has popularized, some passengers may feel uncomfortable and/or “creeped out” upon hearing the click of the doors locking at the commencement of an Uber ride.
While we could spend hours arguing whether this phobia is well-founded, it is safe to say that Uber drivers are acting in their passengers’ best interests by keeping their doors locked during the ride.
Safety is of utmost concern while the Uber is in motion. Below is a list of reasons why the Uber driver should keep doors locked during the ride:
- Hurried passengers – With inner-city riders rushed to make meetings, flights, and appointments, it may be tempting for these clients to alight from the unlocked Uber before it has made a complete stop.
- Unpredictable passenger behavior – Many bad ideas are looked at in a different light when a person is intoxicated, and an unlocked door increases the likelihood that one of these bad ideas will be put to the test.
- Equipment malfunction – Every new generation of vehicles is coming equipped with new and improved safety features. Still, it’s not unfathomable that a seatbelt doesn’t work correctly or a seat slides off its mount, so a locked door is just an added precaution against ejection from the vehicle.
Downsides to Uber Drivers Locking Doors
While the arguments behind the reasons for Uber drivers locking their doors are abundant and well-founded from a security and safety standpoint, which should be the primary concern of all Uber drivers, there are a couple of drawbacks:
- Instant gratification culture – With the continued evolution of technology in helping us quickly solve problems, people view waiting, even for the shortest period, as a major chore. The one second it takes to unlock a door for the correct passenger can seriously upset some riders.
- Damage to the exterior – In the aforementioned escalating situation scenario, while it is prudent to prevent such riders from entering the Uber, there is the chance they could become upset and damage the exterior of the vehicle as they try to get in.
Why Uber Drivers Lock Their Doors: A Best Practice
As technology has helped solve some major inefficiencies within the transportation industry with ridesharing services, some new challenges have also been created with the abundance of the Uber brand on every city street across the country.
To minimize the fallout from these challenges, it is best that Uber drivers keep their doors locked until they are sure they have safely identified the correct passenger, and that they keep their doors locked for the duration of the ride.