8 Things You Shouldn’t Do in Ubers Right Now
The rules of the road have changed. Here’s how to keep yourself (and your driver) safe during the pandemic.
You’ve heard the phrase “our new normal” time and time again since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, with public health safety at the forefront of our minds in an attempt to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus. But some aspects of our pre-pandemic routines are still in place and we need them to keep our lives moving. For many, that necessitates the use of ride-share services like Uber and Lyft, though that doesn’t mean it should be business as usual. Just as you take proper precautions before entering a grocery store (masking up, sanitizing a cart, sanitizing your own hands), there are measures to keep in mind before opening the car door to someone else’s vehicle and hopping in. We asked travel experts and ride-share drivers to weigh in on what’s off-limits during these uncertain times.
Don’t order an Uber if you’re not feeling well
If you were feeling under the weather, you likely wouldn’t visit a relative or close friend, for fear of getting them sick. The same consideration should extend to your Uber driver. “We didn’t really think before the pandemic, How am I feeling today? Could I be getting sick?” says Myers. “Moving forward, if you don’t feel well, you should not expose another person [to your potential germs]. We should always have been thinking this way, but the pandemic has really highlighted this for everyone. Think before you ride!”
Don’t remove your face covering
Wearing a mask isn’t only for your safety, of course—it’s for keeping those around you safe, too. While you may not necessarily love wearing a face covering when in a car or on public transportation, consider the health of others. “Never take off your mask, no matter what,” says budget travel expert Lindsay Myers, who offers travel and lifestyle tips on the website Get Lost with Lindsay. “You are in a small, enclosed space, usually closer to each other than six feet, so keeping on that mask could save you both.” Also, make sure to avoid these 11 mask mistakes.
Don’t eat in the car
Even in these strange times, we’re still living busy lives in one way or another. This may mean the only free time you have to grab a bite to eat is while driving. That’s fine if it’s your car, but not if it’s one belonging to a ride-share driver. As Myers points out, you have to remove your mask to eat and drink, which is a no-no while en route to your destination. And, hey, maybe this is one of the rules we should mind even after the pandemic. “It really is obnoxious when you eat in someone else’s car and then the car now smells like your meal for the entire day,” she points out.
Don’t sit in the front passenger’s seat
We’re not exactly sure why your first inclination would be to hop into the front seat of an Uber (maybe you get carsick in the back?), but Toni McClelland, owner of Travel Bliss, advises against it. As McClelland points out, you should put as much space as possible between yourself and the driver. Plus, there’s another reason to sit in the back: Uber now requires it. As part of their pandemic safety precautions, riders must agree to sit in the back seat in order to travel. If you’re thinking of taking a bigger trip, these are the 11 rules the CDC wants you to follow.
Don’t stay quiet if something seems unsafe
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“Verify that the driver is wearing his/her mask properly,” says McClelland, adding that you should ask the driver to wear the mask correctly if it isn’t covering their mouth or nose. Uber is also going to great lengths to make sure drivers are following this important step. “Before a driver or delivery person can go online, they will be asked to confirm, via a new Go Online Checklist, that they’ve taken certain safety measures and are wearing a mask or face cover,” writes Dara Khosrowshahi, Uber’s CEO, in a blog post. Do you Uber a lot? Watch out for these ride-share scams.
Don’t share anything with your driver
Sharing is caring, except when there’s a global pandemic. While it might normally be considerate to share food or even your phone in the event that your driver needs help with directions, keep your stuff to yourself, says Mike Cameratta, a driver for both Uber and Lyft. “You’d be surprised by how comfortable people get once they are in your car,” he explains. “It’s like they sometimes forget there is a health crisis happening. And please don’t lean into the front row of the car. That’s my space. Stay back.”
Don’t hesitate to open the windows
In the past, maybe it seemed presumptuous to crack the windows as soon as you entered a ride-share vehicle, but in pandemic times, McClelland says that’s exactly what you should do. She would also avoid sharing a vehicle with anyone outside of your household (aside from the driver, of course). Cameratta keeps the windows of his car open at all times for peak ventilation, both for his safety and that of his customers. If you think Ubering around town is different now, check out these photos that show “the new normal” of air travel.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions
“Did your driver disinfect the back seat before he/she picked you up?” asks McClelland. That’s an important inquiry. If you carry your own travel-friendly disinfectants, ask your driver if it’s OK to give the back seat a sweep with whichever formulas you carry to make sure it won’t harm the interior of their car. Uber made a sweeping gesture to arm drivers with masks, disinfectant sprays and wipes, hand sanitizer, and gloves, so they should also have something on hand to allow for proper sanitization. Next, find out what you should always have in your own car during the pandemic.
For more on the pandemic and how it’s changing everyday life, see our comprehensive Coronavirus Guide.