This week, 14 women in San Francisco filed a lawsuit claiming they have been sexually assaulted or raped by a Lyft driver. It is safe to assume that these same drivers are or were working for Uber as well. While some say maybe they are just jumping on board like Crosby accusers, there is no doubt in my mind that these women are telling the truth. Any sexual assault or rape allegation should always be taken seriously, no matter the circumstances. No means no, even after expressed consent is given. It is as simple as that.
In the lawsuit, they complainants are asking that dashcams should be installed. While this is a good step, cameras do not stop assault or rape.
So what does?
Better Screening of Drivers
When a driver signs up for Uber or Lyft (and mostly any other on demand gig), they are not screened in person. Human instinct can not be dismissed. While this prevents discrimination lawsuits, meeting face to face, can give you that feeling, that there might indeed be something off about this person. Background checks only work if this person was caught. The whole point in registering sex offenders in a national database is based on the fact that they will do it again, even after they were caught. There is nothing stopping those from assaulting time and time again if they have not been caught!
Riders: Use your better judgment, if a driver gives off a bad vibe or has a lower than average rating, cancel that ride. You have 2 minutes to cancel before you are charged. If you are outside of that 2 minute window, that $5 is a small price to pay for your safety.
The sad reality is, Lyft and Uber have not made it a secret that the only way to profitability is to have a “critical mass of drivers.” This comes at a price. Slowing down the contracting process by having each driver come in to meet face to face will weed out the drivers who are joining Uber and Lyft with ulterior motives. Whether that simply prevents them from wanting to come in, or a office employee just gets that bad feeling, it can really help. Lyft had a mentorship program that has since been terminated, the truth of the matter is, there was less of these sexual assault cases.
I know I always go back to this, but the truth of the matter is, Uber and Lyft have a hard time not only retaining but also attracting new drivers. When you want to create a successful company, you hire the best your money can buy right? Yes, this not the hardest job to learn. All you have to literally do is, turn the app on and get a ping. Follow the blue line, and it will take you to where you need to be. Lately, Lyft and Uber even tell you where you will find more riders, in real time. There is nothing to it. It is one of the easiest jobs in the world (aside from staying awake as Lyft and Uber take rates lower and lower and you need to do more rides to make what you were making). Sounds good right? Lyft provides you a car and you have a job.
Now, what if I told you that Lyft will give you a car, but for $250 a week and you get paid 44 cents for every mile you drive on the app? Just to pay off the weekly rental you need to drive 568 miles. Still sound enticing? You forgot about dead miles. Lets say you were really good at minimizing them and you drove 800 miles total to pay off that $250 weekly charge. Ah, but you forgot, you spent $40 in gas. So let’s say you drove 1,000 miles for $250. Think you can drive that in one day? Well, Lyft only allows you to work for 14 hours a day. 1,000 miles in 14 hours in 71mph average. That is impossible. On average, In Houston a rider is 5-10 minutes away. This is not taking into account if you decided to wait at the airport for 2-3 hours. Realistically you are looking at a 30mph average once you take everything into consideration. Guess what? That is 33 hrs of work, just to pay off that weekly charge. Need to make $500 a week in addition to the rental? Great, now you are working 99 hrs.
You see, as a potential driver considering if it is worth it, you did the math, and figured out that is not for you.
Now, those who are uneducated, who simply believe everything they read? Wow, they are jumping on board with no research done whatsoever! Now you are hiring the bottom of the barrel. Sadly, those who are struggling (not all) are more likely to commit a crime of opportunity. This is why poverty stricken areas have a higher crime rate. There will be drivers mad at that statement, but it further proves my point. I see drivers sleeping peacefully in West University, but I do not see drivers in 5th ward taking a cat nap between rides.
I know, a lot of you drivers are rolling your eyes, like “your numbers, while on paper sound good is not the reality.” You are not taking into consideration, that one of those 1 mile short trip is going to net you $2.44 a mile. Which, really means, that $250 can be done in just 105 miles. 200 if you dead mile at a 1:1 ratio. My numbers don’t take into consideration that you may have 4, $40 back2back with little or no downtime. We have our good times and bad times, but it all averages out. Why do you think I still drive?
It is NOT just riders
I have to end this by pointing out that drivers, especially women drivers are also assaulted everyday by riders. Many of these go unreported because they are scared of losing their source of income. They continue to drive because they need the income. Some drive only during the day, and miss out on big events out of fear of being assaulted. For those women reading this, please do not be afraid to reach out to local law enforcement as soon as possible. Do not be afraid of losing your income. Those riders need to get what they deserve. There are driver groups on Facebook created for Women, by Women. Reach out to these groups. Create a fake FB profile, reach to the mods and admins if you are not comfortable telling everyone in there. Please remember, you are not alone.