As of November 2021, the unemployment rate in the United States dipped to 4.2 percent from 4.6 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). This still leaves 6.9 million Americans jobless. This is also higher than the 5.7 million Americans who were jobless before the pandemic.
One of the options for jobless people who own a car is to drive for ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft. Combined, they make up 90 percent of the U.S. ride-sharing market, according to ABC News.
Both are still looking for more drivers to hire. Many of their drivers left during the pandemic, but some are slowly returning. Lyft said its pool of drivers increased by 45 percent compared to the same time in 2020. Uber said its pool of drivers increased by 65 percent since January this year. Both companies offer incentives to attract new drivers and retain those they already have.
Demand for rides from the public is increasing at a faster rate than the hiring of drivers, though. This pushes the cost of rides higher and makes waiting time longer for passengers.
Uber and Lyft are earning well. In the third quarter of this year, Lyft said its riders increased by two million. Uber said it had regained around 85 percent of its pre-Covid-19 business. On December 14, CNBC cited Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi, stating that this increased to 90 percent. His statement resulted in an increase in the stock value of both Uber and Lyft. The recovery of both companies is reassuring for those who will drive for them.
Requirements to Drive for Uber or Lyft
To be an Uber driver, you need a four-door vehicle that qualifies under your city’s regulations for ride-sharing cars. You need a valid U.S. driver’s license and a minimum of a year’s experience in licensed driving. Those who are below 25 years old need three years of experience. You must also submit documents, including your driver’s license, proof of your vehicle’s insurance, proof of residency, and your profile photo. You will need a smartphone that can run the Uber driver’s app. Uber will do a background check on you.
Lyft has additional requirements and limits. Driver’s licenses from U.S. territories such as the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico are not accepted. The applicant must also pass the company’s Community Safety Education program.
The vehicle must have current registration and valid license plates. You cannot use a limousine, a taxi, or subcompact cars like certain MINI Cooper models, Kia Rio, Hyundai Accent, Ford Fiesta, and Chevrolet Aveo. The vehicle must not be designated as rebuilt, non-repairable, or salvaged.
Different areas have their own rules regarding the age of a vehicle. In Wisconsin, for example, most cities require the car to be no older than a 2004 model. However, the car must be no older than a 2005 model in Green Bay. The vehicle must be no older than a 2006 model in Sheboygan, Milwaukee, Madison, and Janesville.
Lyft has higher-paid luxury car options called Lyft Lux, Lux Black, and Lux Black XL. Only specific luxury car models are eligible. They must sport an all-leather interior with four passenger seats, excluding the one beside the driver. A black exterior is required for vehicles to join the Lux Black and Lux Black XL lineup. For Lyft Lux, vehicles must be a 2014 model or newer. For Lux Black and Lux Black XL, vehicles must be a 2016 model or newer.
Before applying, you must check the specific requirements for Lyft drivers in your city. There are also variations in the requirements by state.
Health and Safety Precautions
The most common type of cancer in the U.S. is skin cancer, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This is mostly caused by extensive exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays. Driving all day exposes you to these rays. The Skin Cancer Foundation states that skin cancers in the U.S. are mostly found on the left side of drivers where they are most exposed to the sun. It is, therefore, best to get an auto window tinting service if you decide to become a rideshare driver. Choose a tint that provides sun protection factor (SPF) 1,000 because this means that it blocks more than 99 percent of dangerous UV rays. Do not forget to check the tinting regulations in your locality first.
With the pandemic still in full blast, the CDC has guidelines for drivers of rideshare services, taxis, limousines, and other similar driving services. Masks are required for drivers and passengers alike. Do not allow a passenger to sit in the front passenger seat. Set the vehicle’s air conditioning system to bring in air from the outside. Do not recirculate air. Carry a disinfectant spray or disinfectant wipes to clean surfaces touched by passengers. Regularly clean your hands with hand sanitizer.
Of course, the most basic precaution is to be fully vaccinated and have a booster shot before even applying to become a rideshare driver. This will keep you and your passengers safer.