Uber still faces resistance in the Triangle, such as at RDU International Airport, and elsewhere around the world. But, hey, the company is hot. It’s raised another $1.6 billion – that’s a lot of money NOT coming from fares.

So you decide to try Uber or Lyft as an alternative to taxi or mass transit or a limo. Just who are these independent contractors that you are relying on for a safe, affordable trip?

A new survey profiles Uber’s drivers – who they are and why they drive for Uber. Many are professional drivers but almost as many are not. Many are very entrepreneurial in spirit. They like freedom. Sounds like a lot of self-starters you know, right? But there’s much more.

Let’s start with gender and age.

  • 14% are women
  • Of those, 42% drive for Uber because of a preference for flexible and part-time employment, citing “family or health reasons”
  • 29% of men drivers cited Uber for those reasons
  • 25% are over 50
  • 19% are under 30
  • 71% have dependents at home

Uber conducted its first survey of a growing work force through Benenson Strategy Group, and in releasing the results Uber noted that it paid out over $650 million to drivers in the U.S. last year.

Better hours, pay, be your own boss are among the reasons why Uber’s drivers sign on.

Says the survey:

  • “87% Want to Be Their Own Boss: Respondents claimed a major reason for working with Uber was “to be my own boss and set my own schedule.” In fact, 65% of driver-partners changed the number of hours worked per week by more than 25% from one week to the next.
  • “85% Want Work-Life Balance: A similar overwhelming majority claimed a major reason to work with Uber was “to have more flexibility in my schedule and balance my work with my life and family.” Notably, 51% of driver-partners work 15 hours or less a week, when they decide to work at all.
  • “Almost half of Uber’s driver partners previously worked in the for-hire transportation industry. They told us they choose to partner with Uber because it frees them from traditional taxi “shift work” that requires a high cost of entry. Driver-partners are able to optimize their expenses and earn at least as much in their old jobs, if not more. This means that 50% of them were not previously driving to make a living. They only chose to become drivers because Uber came to town.”

By the way, Uber also uses the survey to drive its acceptance by governments and agencies.

Says Uber:

“Policymakers are acknowledging the importance of flexible economic opportunity too. Last year alone, 22 jurisdictions across the U.S. (cities and states) adopted smart, modern regulations for the ridesharing industry, ensuring that Uber and other platforms can continue to connect riders with safe, reliable and hassle-free rides — along with a better way for drivers to make a living.”