How to handle UberX and Lyft requests with too many riders

You’re waiting for your passenger to come outside and get in the car, and as you see them walking out you start counting. One, two, three, four, five, or even six people. But you’re driving Uber X or Lyft and you only have four seat belts, so what do you do? How do you handle this situation? In this post I’ll cover how to handle UberX and Lyft requests with too many riders.

Take a look at my video to see how I handle this problem, and read the transcript below if you prefer to read.

So the first thing you need to know is obviously as an UberX or Lyft driver the basic requirement is that you have a vehicle with four doors and five total seat belts. One for you as the driver and four for your potential passengers. Most rides may only be one or two or sometimes three passengers, and you don’t get four passengers all that often. But you have four extra seat belts, so that’s the maximum that you can carry, that’s policy with Lyft and Uber, and of course that’s also the law.

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I confess: I’ve given rides to big groups that didn’t fit in my car

The first thing I have a little confession to make. I’ll be honest, I’ve given a ride to groups of five and groups of six before, and it was when I was first getting started. I frankly didn’t really know any better so I don’t know that I can blame myself or even blame other drivers because I didn’t know what happens out there.

When you get to a big group, you probably know that it’s wrong, but you’ve already wasted money, you’ve already wasted gas and time to get to that rider, or maybe you’ve even already started the trip and people start piling into the car and you realize that they’re trying to cram five or six into your UberX car. And at that point you don’t have a lot of solutions.

All of your riders need a seatbelt. It’s the law, and it keeps everyone safer

I definitely understand where drivers are coming from that are doing this and once in a while someone may even say, “Hey I’ll give you a good tip.” But let’s be honest, we all know that never happens. So why don’t you wanna do these rides?

Now the first thing is you could easily get a ticket. If a cop sees you and pulls you over with too many passengers, in most states the driver is responsible for that ticket. And if you think the passenger’s gonna pay you back for that ticket or Uber and Lyft, there’s definitely no, “My passenger didn’t have a seat belt on and I got a ticket” option in the Uber or Lyft driver app, or at least the last time I checked.

The bigger risk though in my opinion is the liability. If you get into an accident and that person sues you or Uber. I mean let’s face it, we’re in a litigious society. Basically everyone likes to sue each other and Uber has deep pockets, you’re potentially gonna named in a lawsuit too is what I’ve seen from experience with talking to drivers where this has happened, or similar situations. What if Uber’s insurer says, “Hey we’re not gonna cover medical bills for that fifth person who was in the car” if you get into an accident. I’ve never actually heard of that happening but I could imagine that it’s a risk.

How to politely, but firmly, decline a ride with too many passengers

What is the solution to this problem? How do you handle this? Now the first thing I have to tell you is you don’t wanna be a dick about it. You wanna be firm with your passengers, but you also have to be understanding. Diffuse the situation. Being angry only escalates the situation. You can say something like, “Hey I’d love to take you but Uber’s insurance only covers four passengers and I only have four seat belts so unfortunately I can’t do it. And give them options, don’t just say no. Say, “Hey, how about I take four of you now or you can cancel and order an UberXL, that’s only a few dollars more.” I’m telling them no but I’m presenting them an alternative option. Or you can also say something like, “Unfortunately I can only take four passengers but I’m happy to wait with you guys while you call another UberX.”

If you’re finding that this is a constant problem in your market, maybe there’s certain times or place where you keep getting requests and you show up and there’s six people trying to jam in the car. You can always send a quick text, as soon as you accept the request on Uber or Lyft, you also obviously have the option to text your rider, and you can say something like, “Hey this Harry you’re driver, I’m on my way. And just as a reminder, the law only allows me to transport four passengers.” Something like that, simple, casual. Might get a little annoying if you have to do that every single time but you can use a shortcut or something like that to expedite that process.

I don’t allow this in my car anymore, and this is one area where I think I would almost say that every single driver needs to be basically not doing these rides because if you give a passenger an inch obviously they’re gonna take a mile. If you let a passenger do this once then they’re probably gonna try and do it again and say, “Oh my last Uber driver let me do it.” But if they run into a roadblock with you, next time when they go and they have five people they might not call that UberX. They may say, “Man that driver Harry that I got last time was kind of a dick about it, he made us call another ride and it was annoying, it was a hassle.” That’s actually what we want because then in the future now they call two UberXs or give some more business to our buddies on UberXL.

If you do have an UberXL eligible vehicle, and let’s say someone requests UberX but they get into the car with six people even though they only requested UberX, you can actually submit a request to Uber after the ride is over via the help menu. Select that trip and say that there were more than four passengers. If you have a dash cam this is another scenario where it’s gonna be good to have that evidence on your side in case anything happens.

Hopefully that answers the questions. Recapping this video, you guys need to make sure that if you are getting these requests, make sure you’re handling them smart and don’t do these rides. And make sure that you prepare too for the future so that you can avoid these. So if you guys do have any questions or comments, please don’t hesitate to leave them below. Drive safe everyone!

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