Increasing Safety and Security for Rideshare Drivers
By Syed Gilani, Founder and CEO of Safr
Be your own boss, set your own hours, and drive around town to help others get around: sound like a great gig? With over 2 million rideshare drivers in the U.S. and growing, rideshare driving can be a great full-time job or part-time job to make supplemental income.
But what about women, who comprise a quarter of all rideshare drivers, and their safety? A leading rideshare provider released a report documenting over 3,000 sexual assaults in 2018. The vast majority of victims were female.
It’s not just passengers, it’s drivers being assaulted too. A quarter of rideshare drivers are women. 42% of sexual assault victims were drivers—making them as vulnerable as passengers. Female drivers often have a negative experience with intoxicated male passengers, including non-consensual touching with 1,560 reports in 2018—and this only accounts for those who reported it.
It’s time for change in the rideshare industry, not just for passengers, but for drivers as well. Large corporate rideshares have focused solely on valuation, rather than the well-being of their number-one business partner: drivers. Compensation for drivers has simply not been adequate. Earning well below minimum wage, after expenses, is not uncommon. According to recent reports, drivers for major rideshares earn as low as $3.75 an hour after expenses.
Protection for drivers has not been adequate either. Currently, there is no way to select the kind of passenger you serve. Providing the option for drivers to select their passengers’ gender is a simple feature that would improve security. Female drivers should be able to select female passengers for safety reasons. Drivers experience considerable insecurity with some passengers, particularly at night and during weekends, so driving those of the same gender would reduce and eliminate sexual harassment and assault cases.
Greater safety for drivers must be a priority as well. With the abundance of rideshares on the road today, drivers are often concerned about picking up the correct passenger, especially in an urban center crowded with people. Verification needs to happen the moment the passenger enters the car. Furthermore, there needs to be better means of alerting authorities in the event of an emergency, for both drivers and passengers. One may not be able to make a discreet emergency call; getting help should be possible with the click of a button, which no rideshare currently offers.
Drivers want a community. While most people who drive for rideshares are looking to break free of a typical work environment and having a boss, having a community of colleagues is still incredibly important to most drivers. Being a part of a community of drivers—who become advisors, resources, and even friends—is one of the most rewarding parts of the job.
Drivers want to work for a rideshare with whom their values are aligned. From struggling with safety issues to getting paid equitably, all over the world, women experience issues pertaining to their gender. Even driving a rideshare, a recent study found that women earned 7%, or $1.24 per hour, less than men. There is no reason a female driver should be earning less than a male driver. Drivers are a valuable part of the rideshare economy and deserve to earn, particularly if they provide a high level of service.
The time has come for a new rideshare paradigm. Whether a longtime driver for a major rideshare, or a new driver trying to make a side income, finding the right rideshare to drive for is more important than ever. Prioritizing safety in transportation for women and other underrepresented groups—including families, the LGBTQ+ communities and the elderly—creates a safer world. This starts with giving more power and choice to drivers, which means a more secure journey for everyone.