In the “Dryving with Lyft” blog series, I’ll be writing about any fun (or not so fun) experiences I have over the next few months. I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the community Lyft created, and I want to share it with you. It’ll hopefully inspire you to sign up with Lyft as a driver or a passenger. Hit the buttons below if you decide to take the leap. Don’t sign up without a referral code; you’ll lose out on extra money. Disclosure: if you sign up via these links, I get a kickback from Lyft.
Why Did I Choose Lyft?
Before you start your Lyft driver application, let me share a few reasons I chose Lyft over its rival, Uber. I’ve been watching both companies grow over the last few years. As a small business owner, blogger, and tech guru, I see news for both all the time. Uber’s growth is stronger, but with that growth came many mistakes. Those mistakes, and their CEO’s wicked reputation, labeled them a shady company. Lyft’s growth has been slower, but it allows them to maintain their status as the more relaxed, friendlier option. Many of Lyft’s riders are hip millennials who need to get from point A to point B. Uber riders fall under a douchey stigma that comes straight from the company’s CEO.
My mentor session only confirmed my outsider’s viewpoint. My mentor worked for Uber before coming to Lyft. He confirmed the gap in rider conduct right away. The most striking statement was that, in his 1,000 or so rides, he’s never rated a rider fewer than 5 stars. That could be false, but I’m inclined to believe him. Even his role in the Lyft driver application process confirmed my thoughts. He was a nice guy who just wanted to make a buck. He was far from the classic taxi driver. It seems that Lyft has a better, friendlier community of drivers and riders than Uber. I didn’t want more stress in my life, so I went with Lyft.
Some drivers argue that Uber earns them more money. After a little research, I found that untrue for my city. You can check rates for Uber and Lyft by using their fare calculators. I like money, but it’s not my only factor in choosing a company. After completing my Lyft driver application, I think I made the right choice. We’ll see if I think that a few months from now. I’d love it if you joined me at Lyft. My goal for this post is to help you make the right choice.
Lyft Driver Application
I recently completed my Lyft driver application after putting it off for over a year. I initially signed up to drive in July of 2014. I have a full-time job that hindered my ability to finish the application process. I decided it was time for me to finish my application. To complete the Lyft driver application you must be at least 21 years of age. You also need more than 1 year of driving experience and a smartphone. You must pass driving record and background checks. You must also pass medical and vehicle inspections as necessary for your region. We have more information about these requirements throughout the post.
From what I initially remember, many things changed in the last year. My state regulates Lyft drivers with mandatory vehicle inspections and commercial driver’s license physicals. They’re also apparently conducting random driver audits. These audits make sure you have the items you need to drive. The Lyft driver application doesn’t require the physical or the state-mandated inspection. If a Public Utilities Commission auditor finds you driving without proof of passing that physical, there could be consequences.
Currently, in the state of Colorado, the auditor notifies Lyft that you’re non-compliant. Lyft will suspend your driver account until you send them proof of compliance with state regulations. I verified this information with the Colorado PUC today via phone. They are currently working towards new regulations that will penalize the company (Lyft, Uber, etc.) if their drivers are non-compliant. At no point in the future will the state hold the individual driver responsible for non-compliance. Ultimately, this means that Lyft will eventually be responsible for keeping record of more than just your driver’s license and insurance. In the future, they probably won’t approve your Lyft driver application until they have your CDL physical and your vehicle inspection forms on file. Keep in mind: these rules are specific to the state of Colorado. Your region may have other requirements; check here for more info.
There are also new apps that can help you track your mileage, do your taxes, and improve your gas consumption. We’ll talk more about these apps in another post. Here’s a list of the posts we’ve written so far – Dryving with Lyft. The Lyft driver application is our first post, so you may need to wait a bit for more posts to show up.
Completing the Lyft driver application isn’t hard… it was downright easy. It consists of a 4-step process:
- Verify your account via phone.
- Add your vehicle information.
- Fill out your personal information.
- Request a mentor session.
After that, Lyft does a background check, verifies your ID, and checks your insurance information. Once you’ve completed the Lyft driver application, you can start driving. That doesn’t mean you should forego your regional driver requirements. Let’s break down the important steps of Lyft driver application process.
Most people own a car that would pass Lyft’s vehicle requirements easily. As part of the Lyft driver application process, you’ll tell Lyft what type of vehicle you own. If it doesn’t match their requirements, you won’t be able to continue the Lyft driver application. If you’re curious about the vehicle requirements, here are the basics:
- Not older than 12 years; at least 4 doors. Some cities are 10 years; others are 8. Check here.
- Must have 5 seat belts including the driver’s belt. All seat belts must work.
- All vehicle features must work: ac/heat, lights, turn signals, etc. Use common sense about this.
- Free of major damage – there are limits to acceptable damage, but no damage is best.
- Current driver’s license and license plates for the state where you’re driving.
If your vehicle meets those requirements, you’re probably fine. It’s worth signing up and starting the Lyft driver application process. You’ll still have to pass the “mentor inspection.” We’ll talk about that in the next section.
- Get a good car wash. I prefer to wash mine myself.
- Vacuum everything: floor mats, under the seats, cushion cracks, etc.
- Clean the windows on the inside. Windex is fine; just buff out the streaks.
- Wipe down your interior with a good spray detailer.
We’ve linked our recommendation for the interior detailer here. We’ve used Meguiar’s products for years. The spray we linked adds a protective layer that prevents sun damage and doesn’t smell bad like other products.[amazon template=amazon embed&asin=B0002V9IFU]If you have leather seats, make sure you’re taking care of them with a good cleaner/conditioner (also linked). Clean your leather after any incident like a spill or drunken mishaps (it can happen). We also recommend doing this monthly to properly care for your leather interior. It’ll last forever with proper care. Keep in mind that any money you invest in the care of your car is a tax write-off; save your receipts! As a general note, we recommend having a good accountant do your taxes for you – they’ll find write-offs and tax savings that you never would.
After you’re all cleaned up, double check to make sure you’ll pass all the mentor inspection items. Here’s a full list of the inspection items. If you think you’ll fail any of those items, get it fixed before heading to your mentor session. When in doubt, ask your mentor about it. They’ll let you know if it will be an issue. You can’t complete the Lyft driver application without passing the mentor inspection.
During the mentor session, your mentor will complete his or her checklist and take you on a practice drive. They’ll have you drive around the city and talk with you the whole time. They’ll mention any region-specific rules for driving. They’ll also fill you in on the basic use of the Lyft app. If you have any questions about Lyft, the mentor session is the best place to get answers. You can also ask me in the comments.
During the practice drive, your mentor watches how you react to certain situations. They also see if you have a good personality. Lastly, they check that you can actually drive. Lyft is a pretty chill company, but you should still be focused during your mentor session. You should also be nice when driving Lyft riders. I tell other people doing the Lyft driver application that they’re on stage. Be yourself, but know that your riders can rate you for personality as well as your driving. Your Lyft reputation affects your money-making goals. If you tank your rating, Lyft may even ask you to leave the program.
Be friendly, know how to drive, and pass your mentor inspection. That will help you to complete the Lyft driver application. At this point, you could drive. I recommend completing all your regional requirements first.
Lyft Driver Dashboard
Once you’ve passed all the steps, Lyft will mark your Lyft driver application as complete. That allows you to sign into the Lyft driver dashboard. I suggest you to spend time learning the dashboard. It’s the best place to get data about your driving, money, and bonuses. It’s also where you add your tax and bank info so you get paid. You’ll find those fields on the “Settings” page. Make sure you do that right away so you start making money now. Also, double-check the “Documents” page to make sure they have all of them. If they don’t, I suggest using the app to submit the missing items. I could not get the browser upload to work. They are not required to complete the Lyft driver application. You can still drive without adding them… but don’t.
I keep talking about the regional requirements to complete the Lyft driver application because they’re very important. I suggest treating them as a required step. You should not drive without completing them. Your region may treat their rules differently than Colorado. Just because the state of Colorado doesn’t fine the driver doesn’t mean it’s the same in your region. Here’s a full list of regional requirements.
As part of my regional requirements, I had to get a CDL physical. The official term is “Department of Transportation Medical Examination Report.” Lyft has the forms for these on their website, but you still have to visit a DoT-certified medical professional to take the exam. You can find a list of certified professionals here. Just enter your zip code and call around for the best price. If you live in Denver, the cheapest price I found was $60 at Aspire Family Medicine.
You have to visit a certified medical professional to ensure the safety of other people on the road. The powers that be train them to look for common risks like diabetes, sleep apnea, etc. My doctor said that fatigue is a larger issue than drinking. They want to make sure you’re healthy. They don’t want you putting riders or other vehicles in danger. Not everyone will pass this test. My blood pressure was high the day that I went in (stress much?), and it almost hurt me. I passed everything else with flying colors, so they gave me the Medical Examiner’s Certificate. In Colorado, I’m only required to keep this in my vehicle. It’s not necessary to get a CDL, so I don’t have to take this to the DMV. Check your regional requirements to make sure you’re following them closely.
If your region requires a vehicle inspection, Lyft should have information for authorized inspection locations. If you check out the Colorado page, you can see they used mapbuildr to mark the authorized inspection locations. I didn’t call around for this one since the closest inspector to me was only $20. You may be able to find it cheaper, but consider the gas it takes to get there. My inspector laughed when I told him that my car was basically brand new. We joked that I shouldn’t have any problems passing the inspection… in theory. An hour later, I passed and was ready to finish everything else. Again, neither test affects the Lyft driver application. They are just rules for my state. Your state may share these rules or have something else.
Not all states have the same rules for rideshare driver insurance. Lyft’s driver insurance works for most markets. I suggest that you check your state’s rules after you complete your Lyft driver application. There’s no reason to change your insurance until you’re approved to drive. Colorado changed its rideshare insurance rules in early 2015. The new rules require primary insurance coverage when you’re in driver mode. Lyft only offers primary insurance coverage if you accept a fare. For Colorado drivers, that means we need a rideshare-friendly insurance plan to be compliant. In other states, you’ll likely be dropped by your insurance company if you get into an accident while working for Lyft. A corrupt industry does something stupid… shocker.
USAA (my insurance company) offers a rideshare option $8 a month or less. If you’re not with USAA, you may need to switch to Farmers or MetLife to be compliant. Nothing is as cheap as USAA. Most insurance companies will make you switch to a commercial plan. That isn’t cheap; you’ll want to switch companies instead. Again, don’t do anything with your insurance until you’ve finished your Lyft driver application.
Ready to Drive
PHEW. As I mentioned, passing the Lyft driver application is actually pretty easy. The hard part is making sure you are compliant with your city or state rules. Are they 100% vital? Maybe not. I’d rather do things the right way the first time. The nice thing about Lyft is that you make money when you want to drive. If you’re found non-compliant, you wouldn’t be making any money until you get back into compliance. Why risk it, right? After completing all those steps, I was ready to drive. I’ll talk about my first day of driving in the next post of this series. Check back later!
If you have any questions about Lyft, please let me know in the comments.