I’m a Lyft Driver. Lyft Drivers Act like I’m part of their group App

It’s almost as if riders are able to enter my car without me being there.

In the future, ride-hailing passengers may conjure autonomous vehicles to their doorsteps with a few taps in an app. The vehicles are currently equipped with drivers. But some passengers seem to be able to transcend our technological limits to create a world in which human drivers are no longer necessary. These riders believe we’re already living in the age of autonomous vehicles.

My name is Dana and I am a Lyft driver. My Kia Optima Hybrid is a white 2016 Kia Optima. In the morning darkness, I collect passengers. Sometimes, when I accelerate along with the rider in my rear seat, it is possible to imagine that after reaching a certain speed, the real me vanishes. Lyft passengers often imagine that I am replaced with an invisible, generic driver.

Since I began working as a Lyft driver several years ago, my speech and actions were the same as those of the strangers with whom I interact every day. However, I quickly discovered that my passengers behaved differently than I thought they would when in the car of a stranger. My behavior changed later.

Although my experiences as a driver are based on mine, I consider the passengers’ perspective. I’ve heard from others that they are uncomfortable on silent rides. So, I start every conversation with some generic questions. You can tell when someone is looking for a calm ride. Other people want to have a conversation with someone, which I am happy to do. I’m also hearing from passengers about their experiences with drivers who make them feel uncomfortable, such as hitting them on the cheek or going on political rants. There have been incidents in which drivers were assaulted and passengers perpetrated on them. Drivers and passengers are strangers inside a moving vehicle. I believe some of the passengers’ indifference towards me may be their way of handling what can be frightening.

Many passengers tend to think that the app, my car and I are one big-app. As if the app makes the driving experience in the car a completely different one than the driving experience in the car of a man.

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