Like most people, I’m taking some time off during the coronavirus national emergency by spending time on my yacht and soaking in some Netflix binges.
Just like you, right? Riiiight.
Truthfully, like most people, I’m scrambling to fill in the lost income from my forced day job hiatus by writing as much as I can, driving rideshare and working other side hustles. I don’t have a choice. Like many of you, I have dependents that need things like food, shelter and internet access to do their homework while schools are closed. There may be Federal relief coming for bigger businesses, but my car is one of my businesses and I don’t think Rideshare Inc. is sending me a fat sympathy check anytime soon. Is rideshare business down? You bet it is. But I’m still out there, trying to get it done, as are thousands of others. So in the interest of keeping people safe while getting them where they want to go, here are some tips for both drivers and passengers.
If You’re A Driver:
Don’t drive while sick. Common sense, right? Maybe. People can rationalize anything, and I know many rideshare drivers are under intense pressure to make every nickel they can, but if you are currently ill or even feel a little bit sick, please don’t even think about driving people around. You might think that sniffle is just a cold or some cough meds will keep you going, but if you’ve been feeling unwell at all, your car could be a wagon full of dangerous germs. If you’re of the opinion this virus is “no big deal” because you’re typically in the best of health and would likely survive COVID-19, imagine if you’re the reason that older person or child with a health condition gets deathly ill because you wouldn’t take a break while you weren’t feeling 100%. The U.S. is woefully unprepared for this pandemic, and until testing becomes widely available, just bite the bullet and stay home if you feel the least bit out of sorts. Yes, that sucks but the consequences of selfishness or greed are far too severe to take the chance. Don’t drive sick.Today In: Cars & Bikes
Clean the hell out of your car. Healthy and ready to drive? Great. Now make sure your car is as clean as an operating room. Get a readily-available EPA-recommended disinfectant and literally bathe the inside of your car with it. Pro tip: Don’t just spray the stuff and wipe it off. That won’t kill the coronavirus (or most any virus). In general, epidemiologists and OSHA recommend you spray the disinfectant on a surface and then LET IT SIT THERE for at least 15 minutes, or better yet an hour, or even better, until it dries. Then maybe hit it again. Do this each day. Make sure you hit all the touch surfaces: Door handles inside and out, seatbelt buckles (soak ‘em real good), armrests, headrests, window buttons, seats and seatbacks, and all of your car’s control surfaces and dash buttons. Obviously, protect your car’s interior surfaces by using a solution that does NOT use bleach unless you have no other choice. And really, in reality, you should spray down anything a rider touches after each ride. Yes, that’s a lot of extra work, but judging from how slow it is, you’ll likely have the time. And feel free to share your actions with your passengers so they feel more at ease while riding.
Get the door. When I drive, I’ve always tried to make like a limo driver and open the door for my passengers when I can. Most riders don’t expect that level of service from a rideshare and enjoy it. Wear gloves – I use some soft driving gloves that I can spritz with disinfectant as needed. It also lets you stretch your legs a bit, but most of all it keeps riders from touching the door. That’s one less place they can possibly pick up a bug – or leave any behind. And now I also ask them if I can get the door for them to get out of the car. The “yes, thank you!” rate is quickly climbing. So are the tips! Just remember to zap the seatbelt buckles with cleaner after each rider – and wear gloves.
Put the water bottles and treats on hold. In the early days of rideshare, many drivers offered bottled water and treats to go with their witty banter. I still do (I offer water and Altoids), but for now, I’m not. It’s just one more way to transfer illness and with most peoples’ paranoia levels now turned up to 11, that once-kind gesture now makes you look like you’re clueless. Keep the Altoids for yourself for now, you probably need them. I still keep bottled water in a carrier in my trunk, and if a rider really needs one, I let them grab one. But I don’t automatically offer it any more.
Talk about the coronavirus and what you’re doing to keep riders safe. If you’re taking all these extra steps, you might as well let your riders know about it while you talk about the big thing on everyone’s mind. I keep a little placard in the back seat briefly explaining my safety steps. Most passengers will appreciate your extra efforts. Coronavirus hoaxers might laugh at you, but just tell them you’re doing what you believe needs to be done to stay in business and keep everyone safe. Then clean twice as much after they get out of the car.
If you’re a rider/passenger:
Don’t ride sick. See Driver point No. 1 above. If you’re thinking “I don’t care if a driver gets sick, I just need to get to where I’m going,” that’s a pretty crappy attitude toward humanity and your rideshare driver, most of whom live on the edge of poverty already and truly can’t afford to get sick. If you’re ill at all, don’t put on a surgical mask thinking that will cover your butt and keep everyone safe. Just stay home and maybe enlist the help of a trusted friend or family member to get you around. Rideshare drivers are doing what they can to stay healthy and get people to their destinations safely. Don’t muck it up for them – and possibly endanger any number of other people. This isn’t the time to be selfish or inconsiderate of strangers – as if there’s any time that’s OK.
Cover up, wear gloves, and a mask. The coronavirus can be contracted through touching a contaminated person, surface and through the air, and you don’t know if the person in the car ahead of you sneezed because they were sick or just had spring allergies. Americans are not yet used to wearing masks with the same casual approach as in many Asian countries; perhaps this would be a good time to put vanity aside and err on the side of safety. You’re to be congratulated for contributing to the small earnings of a rideshare driver, but do protect yourself and them by wearing clothes that cover the skin, some gloves and an N95 mask if you are going for a ride. N95 masks are in short supply of course, so consider getting something a bit more stylish and using an N95 insert. As for gloves, pretty much anything beats bare skin, but if you’re using non-surgical gloves such as work gloves or winter gloves, maybe spritz them with a disinfectant before heading out. Surgical gloves? Sure, anything helps.
Keep your hands to yourself in the car. Pretty simple: Let the driver get the door (it’s fine to ask) and once in, buckle in and keep your hands, elbows and all else to yourself. Want the window down? Ask the driver to do it. Feel a cough or sneeze coming on? Aim for the crook in your elbow or use a hankie. If the driver appears to be ill (coughing, sneezing, etc.), end the ride ASAP and be sure to let the rideshare company know.
Ask the driver what they are doing differently in regards to the virus. If they don’t have a good answer, consider ending the ride. If they list off all the steps they’ve taken to keep you safe, it’s likely they’re taking your health – and theirs – more seriously.
Tip your driver. If your rideshare driver has taken extra steps to keep you safe, please repay that effort with a tip. If you’re fortunate enough to have the means, make it a surprisingly generous tip. Rideshare traffic, like most businesses right now, is way down, so drivers are making a lot less, and pretty much no one is getting rich driving rideshare anyway. That little extra you add onto a $10 ride could be the difference in getting a meal for a driver’s child, you never know. Not many people do rideshare for the fun of it, it’s often a sole source of income or a puzzle piece in their go at the gig economy. In this time of crisis, let’s all do what we can to safely help each other out.
SOURCE: FORBES MEDIA