Hello to all in the rideshare drivers in the gig economy!

As you may have already seen, we’ve been giving out tips on dash cams, taxesextra side hustles, and more, all focused exclusively on you—the driver. But today we’re going to switch it up a touch to focus a little bit more on the other person in the car. That’s right, the rideshare passenger. But not just your ordinary, everyday, mostly forgettable passenger. We’re going to focus on the really crappy ones.

How to Deal with Uncool Rideshare Passengers

Don’t Pick Them Up

First of all, you can check a passenger’s rating and history. If they have a history of being drunk and dumb, or abusive towards drivers, or cancelling trips midway through so you don’t get paid, or whatever—don’t pick them up. Already accept the ride in the app? Cancel it. You shouldn’t be able to get a negative rating for a ride you cancel.

But that's easier said than done sometimes, especially if you're newer to the game. So, assuming they're already in the car, let's move on.

Drunk Rideshare Passenger[s]

The rideshare drivers I talk to almost all say some variation of: “I’ve got some good stories for ya, most of them are about drunk passengers.”

Drunk in the backseat. Photo by Elvis Bekmanis on Unsplash

If it’s a weekend, there’s a good chance someone is using the rideshare appbecause they are being “responsible.” We commend the decision not to drive, but sometimes the good decisions end there. It’s not uncommon for folks who’ve been driving awhile to have people ask if they can bring an adult beverage in the car. With the exception of Alaska, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Missouri, Mississippi, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia, you CAN NOT have open alcohol in a rideshare. Even if you drive (or ride) in those states, you may want to read this bit of legal wisdom from Hire an Esquire on where you can legally drink in a rideshare.

If someone throws up or makes any other kind of mess, document it with your phone and/or dash cam, let the company know immediately—different companies can charge anywhere from $25 to $200, depending on the type and severity of the damage, and then it's up to you if you want to cancel the ride and kick them out or finish it out.

If you have a passenger who is severely intoxicated, an article from Fast Track Mobility says, “If a rider makes you fear for your safety in any way, you should absolutely stop the ride and tell them to leave. If the situation continues to escalate, contact law enforcement immediately. Once you are in a safe place, contact [the rideshare company] and report the incident. Having a dashcam installed is a great way to give you an extra level of protection if these situations arise.” (*see 3 Dash Cams to Consider.)

RideSharing Forum suggests, “It’s best to keep necessary things like vomit or barf bags, towels, tissues, air freshener, mints, and mini cleaning supplies in your car rather than getting cleaning fees.” See our in-depth post about what you should put in your cleaning kit, and our other post about how to report a puker.

But the ultimate advice on how to deal with drunk passengers comes from futurism.com: “Just don't give drunk people rides.”

Stoner Rideshare Passegners

photo: @canna.beee

A lot of people talk about stoners being terrible rideshare passengers. If someone is super duper stoned, they might be annoying, but that'll be the end of it. Keep some spray in the car in case they were smoking some really good s**t that leaves an after-scent in the vehicle. If they were able to remember what they were doing long enough to get two correct addresses into the app, they shouldn't be a problem. They may get the munchies and ask you to stop somewhere unplanned. That's your call, but make sure they add the stop in the rideshare app. If they can't do it, or don't understand what you're saying, you probably don't want to wait while they look over an entire fast food menu. Drop them off, tell them you have another ride waiting, and to use Door Dash or something. Worst case, they'll be seriously bummed for about 14 seconds.

Rideshare Passengers with a Bad Attitude in General

Careful with the angry ones... Photo by Farzan Lelinwalla on Unsplash

Some rideshare passengers are rude. Some rideshare passengers are overly controlling about how you drive, which way you take, the music, the air, the windows, the volume, the station. The advice I've heard from rideshare drivers, and seen around the internet, all boils down to this: Treat a rideshare passenger with a bad attitude like you’re their therapist. Ask them questions. Let them answer. Don’t bring up any potential triggers. Keep your emotions out of it. They talk, you “listen”, and hopefully they either run out of steam, or they get out of the car at the end mad at everything but you. The team at AutoBlog advises drivers to remember the 5 Principles of Customer Service, to avoid uncomfortable situations on the job:

  • Acting as if the Customer is always right (this one alone diffuses more potentially bad situations than any other).
  • Never say "No" to a customer.
  • Never raise your voice in front of a customer.
  • Never curse or use foul language.
  • Dress professionally.

That goes a long way in any situation.

But if it feels dangerous, stop, ask the rider to leave, and, if necessary, call the po-po.

Keep your head on a swivel out there. Good luck!


Christopher Tallon

Christopher Tallon writes, podcasts, and…wait a second. Are you actually reading this? High fiveFollow me here:

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