Vancouver finally had its first weekend with ride-hailing after both Uber and Lyft were given the go-ahead from the city on January 24 and just like you can now hail a Uber or Lyft when you’re in town. When we first heard about Uber a decade ago, we were all taken away by how brilliant the idea was - it was more than just a super friendly alternative to taxis, it opened up the opportunity for people to make more money just by driving their own cars. With the cost of living so expensive in all major metropolitan cities, everything is about making extra money, and Uber is not shy about sharing these success stories on its website. There's Alfonso’s story, and then there’s Tony’s, Mark’s and Tom’s story. Ordinary people just like me and you, who have a need for extra cash and want something flexible, and their stories inspire us to wonder would the people be weird? Is it safe? What's it really like? Would I make a profit? Would it be worth it?
Things You Need To Think About Before Jumping Onto the Uber Wagon
Exactly how much extra cash can you make by driving for Uber?
Displayed prominently on Uber’s web page is the promise Earn at least US$700 for your first 100 trips, guaranteed. And yes, there is a fine print: you need to complete the required number of trips within the required number of days, and guarantee earnings offers are promotional offers and are not a promise or guarantee of future earnings.
Of course, exactly how much you’ll make depends on how many hours you put in behind the wheel. Uber says that 80% of its drivers drive fewer than 35 hours a week, with more than half drive one to 14 hours. A 2016 NerdWallet study found that in order to earn an annual income of $50,000 (a little more than $4100 a month), an Uber driver must provide 60 rides a week. Driving for Lyft? You need to offer 84 rides a week to make that amount.
And then there’s the Uber fees, gas, maintenance and self-employment taxes you need to factor into your earnings. Don’t forget, when you’re driving for Uber, you’re an independent contractor and not an employee. Luckily, Uber has a whole section on their website dedicated to teaching you where to find your tax documents (aka. the 1099 form) and how to locate the nearest H&R Block should you need help.
So while we don’t doubt that you can earn an extra $4100 a month, don’t be alarmed if you end up sending a huge chunk of it back to Uber, Uncle Sam, and your state and local tax offices.
At least you get Basic Insurance coverage
Getting into an accident is one of the most common fear because it’s so easy to do. How do you know if you, your vehicle and your passengers are properly insured and under whose insurance coverage?
If your status is Offline or the Uber app is off - your chosen personal insurance company and coverages apply.
If your status is Available or you are waiting for a ride request - Uber maintains the following auto insurance on your behalf in case of a covered accident:
Third-party liability if your personal auto insurance doesn’t apply
- $50,000 in bodily injury per person
- $100,000 in bodily injury per accident
- $25,000 in property damage per accident
If you’re enroute to pick up riders and during trips - Uber maintains the following auto insurance on your behalf in case of a covered accident:
- $1,000,000 third-party liability
- Uninsured/underinsured motorist bodily injury²
- Contingent comprehensive and collision, up to actual cash value of car ($1,000 deductible)
For more information on what Uber covers, please refer to the Insurance section on their website. And of course, you can check with your insurance provider if they offer any optional add-ons for rideshare drivers.
The dash cam is your best protection against sketchy situations and shady passengers
We have all heard horror stories about drivers being assaulted by unruly passengers. Every Uber driver will have their own experience with sketchy situations and shady passengers, and then there are passengers who don’t know how to act. Being a little drunk or annoying is one thing, but some passengers can cross the line into physical or verbal assault. We cannot stress enough the fact that you need a dash cam onboard just in case.
A dash cam is essentially an add-on to your insurance policy, allowing you to record both front and back (and capture accidents or hit-and-runs), as well as audio, and these recordings protect both you and the passenger. Plus, that little dash cam on the windshield might just be the little nudge that your passenger needs before they dip their hands into your tip jar or spark up that joint in the backseat.
Dash cams we recommend for Uber and Lyft drivers
Ideally, you want a dash cam system that records both the traffic ahead as well as everything that goes in inside the car. In other words, you need a dual-channel IR dash cam system. We recommend the BlackVue DR750S-2CH IR. It is a dual-channel dash cam system that gives you smooth and clear recordings thanks to 1080P Full HD at 60 frames per second. In-cabin recording is also in Full HD, at 30 frames per second.
Looking for a more wallet-friendly option? There’s also the VIOFO A129 Duo IR. It’s a dual-channel screen dash cam that offers Full HD at 30 frames per second from both the front and IR camera.
Looking to splurge a bit? There are the 4K dual-channel IR systems! The BlackVue DR900S-2CH IRC lets you capture the road ahead in 4K UHD and the interior of the vehicle in Full HD, and comes with powerful Cloud features include real-time data and video, GPS tracking, 2-way voice communication, and live video stream. There is also free cloud storage so you can backup a copy of your video footage and replay the videos from the Cloud using your smartphone. Good parking mode coverage with impact and motion detection.
Interested in a budget-friendlier 4K option? The VIOFO’s A129 Duo IR camera is compatible with the VIOFO A129 Pro Duo. You can always pair a VIOFO A129 Pro 1-Channel with a VIOFO A129 Duo IR. What do to with the extra A129 front camera? Mount it on the rear windshield to make a 3-Channel all-inclusive, not-going-to-miss-a-thing system.
Why can’t I just get a regular dual-channel dash cam and point the rear camera the other way for in-cabin recording?
Technically, you could, but we strongly recommend not doing so. Regular rear cameras and IR cameras are built differently. IR cameras are built with infrared lights designed to record details under poorly-lit conditions as well as total darkness. Learn more about IR dash cams from our article, What is an IR Cam and Why Do I Need One?
Ready to get behind the Uber wheel?
If you’re at least 21 years of age, have a valid driver’s licence (note that to be an Uber driver you need more than a regular class license), and have valid auto insurance that meets the stated liability requirements, then your first step would be to sign up on Uber’s website.
Then, once all that is done, come back to BlackboxMyCar to save on your new IR dash cam system with our Rideshare discount - just use RIDESHARE5 at checkout and you can save 5% off any IR system on our website.
Until next time, Happy Ubering and Safe Driving!
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