As more communities start to slowly open back up and return to some semblance of normal amid the coronavirus pandemic, many are left wondering just how safe ridesharing services are.
While many safety tips are floating around to help keep drivers and passengers safe, a lot of people question the legitimacy of these tips.
If you’re wondering, “Is Uber safe?” Or whether you should take the city taxi, then you’ll want to adequately inform yourself on two things:
- Safety tips for ridesharing
- How viruses actually spread
Understanding How Viruses Spread
Let’s face it – there are a lot of uncertainties regarding the coronavirus and how it affects the human body.
While some can be carriers with no symptoms, others fall dangerously ill. With so much conflicting information out there, it’s no wonder that some people are searching the internet for Lyft tips, tips for Uber drivers, and vehicle cleanliness.
Before looking into company coronavirus policies for various ridesharing and city taxi services, you need to educate yourself on how this virus spreads.
A respiratory illness, COVID-19 is caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus. It primarily spreads from person-to-person among those in close proximity (within six feet of each other) and through respiratory droplets, produced when someone who is infected individual sneezes, talks, or coughs.
Of course, these are not the only ways this virus spreads. In fact, the virus can also be transmitted through touch.
When an infected person’s respiratory droplets touch their hands, and they touch something else, another individual can pick it up when they touch the surface and then their face.
Therefore, government agencies, such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), have these suggestions:
- Wear a mask when out and around others
- Don’t touch your face
- Washing your hands regularly
- Disinfect often touched surfaces regularly
COVID-19 Safety Tips for Ridesharing and Local Taxi Services
Whether you simply prefer ridesharing or your car needs repair – forcing you to use a city taxi – once you’ve got a solid understanding of how COVID-19 spreads, you can take precautions to protect yourself when you need to use public transportation.
Ask Your Driver If They’ve Been Symptomatic
Contrary to popular belief, you can, and should, discuss your driver’s health before you step foot into a ridesharing service vehicle.
Ridesharing companies, such as Lyft and Uber, are encouraged to keep their drivers from working if they show any signs of illness.
Due to the close proximity required in a taxi, the virus can easily be transmitted. Don’t be afraid to ask them about their current health in the past few days or weeks. And if their answer makes you uncomfortable, kindly decline their services.
Ask About Previous Passengers Before Entering a Vehicle
You should also ask about the condition of the previous passengers.
Drivers have a right to decline services to individuals they suspect to be ill. They are also responsible for disinfecting their vehicle in between users to ensure the public’s safety.
If your driver believes a previous passenger may have been symptomatic, you have the right to decline their services – politely so.
Inspect the Vehicle’s Condition
Again, it’s the driver’s responsibility to maintain a clean, safe riding environment for all passengers.
If the vehicle doesn’t look to have been cleaned recently, or if you feel uncomfortable with the state of the vehicle, do not get in the vehicle and decline the ride politely.
Avoid Sitting in the Front Seat
Most ridesharing and city taxi services now require that all drivers restrict the number of passengers in their car to ensure the front seat remains unoccupied.
This not only helps protect the driver but the passenger as well. Plus, this is especially important for vehicles without a partition between the driver and passengers.
Always Wear a Face Mask
A face mask is a primary defense to help protect others should you unknowingly be symptomatic.
Masks and face coverings help to prevent respiratory droplets from landing on public surfaces or near another person to be unknowingly inhaled.
Most rideshare and city taxi services now require all passengers and drivers to wear a face mask. And should a passenger refuse to comply, the driver has the right to cancel the ride for both their safety and that of the general public.
Consider Rolling the Windows Down
While it may not be possible in all weather conditions, it is highly suggested that you roll your windows down when using a ridesharing service.
This helps to increase the airflow within the vehicle, ensuring that stale air is consistently replaced with clean, fresh air for both the driver and passengers.
Use Contactless Payments
Most ridesharing companies have contactless payments, which allow you to pay the driver via their app.
For those who need an alternative method of receiving payments, it’s worth researching different card machines that accept contactless payment options. Some reasonable options include Square and Clover Go.
Have Hand Sanitizer with You
If you must go out, then you should always consider having a bottle of travel-sized hand sanitizer on your person.
This allows you to disinfect your hands after touching public surfaces that may have been contaminated. Remember that not all hand sanitizers are created equal. Both OSHA and the CDC recommend that you use a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
Always Ride and Drive Safely
Not only will you be doing your part to keep yourself safe. You’ll also be helping your driver maintain a healthy riding environment for themselves and any future passengers.