After Uber won the Best of OSU survey for the best transportation, The Lantern sat down with Matthew Seeds, a third-year in biology who drives for the ride-sharing company. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
The Lantern: What made you want to become an Uber driver?
Matthew Seeds: I wanted something that was flexible with my school and I wanted to make some extra money. Uber does a good job of protecting us drivers, and giving a safe alternative for people who don’t want to walk home.
TL: How do you balance driving for Uber with school and other activities?
MS: Uber is great because I basically get to pick my own hours, so it’s very flexible. One week I can drive for 20 hours if I want, and the next week I don’t have to drive at all. It’s super easy to balance, I just fit it in wherever I can.
TL: How has your Uber driving experience been?
MS: Uber does a really good job of having a rating system that goes both ways. We rate you as soon as you get out of the car. That way, you’re always getting a good driver and that way drivers are always getting good riders. If your ratings start to go down, then sometimes the services will not be available to you. It does a good job of keeping everyone safe in that way. Bad drivers aren’t going to stick around, and riders that are threatening the drivers aren’t going to stick around either.
I think, in terms of all the riders I’ve ever had, they’ve all been very nice. Maybe a little talkative because they’ve been drinking a lot, but I’ve never had a bad experience.
TL: Have you ever had an unsafe encounter when driving?
MS: I think the most dangerous things I have ever gotten have just been when a rider has been very intoxicated and they get a little too touchy with me while I am trying to drive.
TL: What precautions could students take to make sure they’re being safe when using rideshare services?
MS: In terms of the biggest risk to anybody’s safety, I would say it has to do with setting a pickup location. I would guess that one out of every three of my riders set a pickup location that is nowhere near where they are. It leads to a lot of confusion and sometimes frustration on their end. I realized that everyone likes to have fun for the night and maybe they’re just not paying attention but that’s definitely the biggest risk. If people took that extra second to make sure that when they open the Uber app the pin is on top of where they are, I think it would lead to people getting to where they need to be a lot (more) safely. I know, as a driver, I go to exactly where the pin is.
It helps a lot too when I have someone walk up to my car, they’re holding a phone and they’re like “Are you Matt?” and I know that is the person I should be taking somewhere.
TL: An Ohio State student was once picked up and attacked by a fake Lyft driver. What are your thoughts on knowing that people are posing as fake Lyft and Uber drivers?
MS: I think it’s obviously very dangerous, but I think they can be easily avoided if the riders take the right steps to make sure they’re getting into the right car. Uber does a good job of providing not only a profile picture of the drivers, but they also give you the license plate number of the car and the make of the car of who’s going to be picking you up.
I know I brought up before that some people will say “Are you Matt?” but that can be a little iffy. Maybe a safer approach would be asking “What’s your name?” “Who are you expecting?”. There’s little things that may seem like you’re being rude but in the long run, as long as it’s keeping you safe, we’d much rather have you asking those questions.
TL: Do you have a story that you could share about a funny, interesting, scary or weird experience you’ve had while driving?
MS: The weirdest story I have is probably the time I got a ride request from the Ugly Tuna. I waited outside for about five minutes before I called him. It took a couple of minutes on the phone for us to realize he wasn’t where he put his pin. Turns out he was actually in Worthington.