11 Tips for Using Uber or Lyft as Your Designated Driver

Anne-Marie Hays

Last Updated: May 22nd, 2020

Man and woman at a bar drinking beer

If you find yourself wondering whether you are sober enough to drive, the likely answer is no. Luckily, rideshare companies like Uber and Lyft are here to help you get home safely. These services are widely available throughout the United States.

We asked the following experts for advice about using Uber or Lyft as your designated driver to get home safely:

Alex Tran — Travel blogger at Love Eat Travel

Harry Campbell — Uber driver and blogger at The Rideshare Guy

Jeremy Ong — Founder at HUSTLR

Tina WillisOrlando rideshare accident lawyer at Tina Willis Law

Here’s what they said:

1. Plan ahead

As a rider, it’s significantly safer to travel in groups. The best tip here would be to plan who you’ll be riding with ahead of time, and leave the bar/club/event area before the majority of the crowd does. — Jeremy Ong

2. Listen to your gut

Do not get in the vehicle if you have any doubts about your driver (meaning, if you have a bad feeling about the driver or the vehicle). — Tina Willis

3. Require safety

Ask your ridesharing driver to follow all rules of the road, drive cautiously and carefully, and follow the speed limit. Obviously it never hurts to tell the driver that these issues are important to you, especially now that some apps are allowing driver reviews afterward.

Ask to end the ride immediately if your driver is not following the rules of the road, or you do not feel safe. — Tina Willis

4. Allow the driver to focus

I would recommend not talking too much during your ride because the driver also has to stay focused. — Alex Tran

Tell your driver that you do not want them looking at their phone, or using any apps, while driving.  This is especially true for texting while driving, or talking on the phone, even if using a bluetooth device.  If the driver must use the app for directions, then those should be set before the ride begins. If, despite your request, your driver uses his or her phone during the drive, ask again, then ask to end the ride immediately if the driver will not comply. — Tina Willis

5. Avoid wait fees

Ensure that you have the entire group ready to go and close together before calling in the ride, as late fees usually result in having to look for the other riders when the driver arrives. — Jeremy Ong

One of my biggest pet peeves is when an Uber driver arrives at the pickup spot and the passenger is not there. It might take minutes before the passenger finally shows up. This is disrespectful to the driver and it takes up the time they could have used to start and complete another ride. As a passenger, be at your pick-up point three to five minutes prior to your pickup time. This gives you ample time if anything were to happen or if you forgot something, you can quickly go grab it without having the Uber driver wait too long. — Alex Tran

6. Consider your pick up location

Also make sure to set the pick up location at a well lit area without too much congestion. For example, if this is a bar or a club, try setting the pickup location at the opposite street or intersection instead. — Jeremy Ong

You can also call for a ride a block or two away from the busy front door where there may be dozens of other drivers and riders. This will make it easier to spot your driver and faster too. — Harry Campbell

7. Keep it clean

The most important thing to consider is that drivers are using their personal car and that you should respect it while riding. That means no eating, breaking the law, slamming the doors, etc. Most riders follow these rules without a problem but some tend to take advantage of a driver's car and their time. Drivers don't get paid much or at all for waiting so it's best to request a ride when ready and try not to keep your driver waiting. Drivers have always been beholden to a ratings system and now that riders will be too, it doesn't hurt to behave with some etiquette. — Harry Campbell

In terms of etiquette, the most important factor would be keeping the car clean. Ensure that all riders are clean before going on the ride and that they are not drunk to the point where they might vomit in the car at any given moment. If this isn’t an option, try to have plastic or paper bags on hand, just in case. Also, keep noise levels to a reasonable level as a courtesy for the driver. — Jeremy Ong

8. Verify your ride

Rides to and from bars and clubs happen all the time on the weekends but especially if you've been drinking, it's important to verify the license plate of your driver. — Harry Campbell

Make it easy to find your driver by also looking for them. Most of the time uber drivers will flash their lights to let you know they've arrived. When they arrive, confirm their name verbally and confirm their license plate visually. Make sure you're getting in the right vehicle. One time I had another person with my first name get into my car on the same block. I had to call another car because they only confirmed using their name with the driver. — Alex Tran

9. Don’t overcrowd

When riding with others, make sure you're not taking up space in an empty seat with your bag. If you need to, use the trunk to hold your belongings. Remember that if you're using a pool, you're paying for one seat in the vehicle. Do not bring more than one person and keep all your belongings to yourself in your space because you never know who else might join you on your ride. — Alex Tran

10. Consider scheduling a ride

Scheduled rides typically make the most sense when you know that you have to be at a certain place at a certain time, like when heading to the airport, dinner reservations, or concerts. Lyft is the only major company to offer true scheduled rides that a driver will see ahead of time whereas Uber just sends out a request a few minutes beforehand. If available in your city, Wingz is another great option for scheduled rides since you can favorite drivers and customize your experience. — Harry Campbell

11. Don’t forget to tip

As far as tipping goes, the minimum tip of 10 percent would suffice as ride-sharing companies tend to have policies where the driver doesn’t get the full amount for tips anyway. If it’s not against the terms of service, consider tipping in cash since the driver gets to keep all of the tip revenue that way. — Jeremy Ong

Special thanks to our expert panel for their advice. Click on the links below to read more about their work. 

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