Parents aren’t able to be everywhere at once. When your child needs a ride somewhere and you’re unable to take them, you may be tempted to have your child use a ridesharing service such as Uber or Lyft.
Ridesharing has become a common and convenient way of traveling. Using an app to request and pay for a ride is easy and is usually less expensive than traveling by taxi. But how safe are ridesharing services, and should you send your child on a ride without you?
You can’t simply call an Uber or Lyft to pick up a young child to bring him or her to school. Per the terms of service of both Uber and Lyft, drivers are not supposed to pick up and transport unaccompanied children or teens under the age of 18.
This doesn’t mean drivers don’t bend this rule. Teens who order an Uber or Lyft simply check a box that they are over 18 when they order a ride. There is no proof required, but drivers are supposed to ask for proof if they believe a rider is underage. In some cities, teens between the age of 13 and 17 are able to set up a teen account which notifies parents of trip details.
The requirements for background checks for Uber and Lyft drivers vary between states. Most of the time, these ridesharing services use background check companies for screenings. Drivers are not usually fingerprinted.
The number of actual incidents that have happened while a person was using a ridesharing service isn’t clear, but there are reports of Uber and Lyft drivers that include rapes and assaults. While some of these stories may be sensationalized by the taxicab industry, parents should be aware that these incidents do happen.
Another thing to consider before you allow your teen to ride in an Uber or Lyft is whether the driver is actually a safe driver. Ridesharing services attempt to hire safe drivers by prohibiting drivers with major moving violations or DUIs in the last seven years from driving for them. Each driver’s record cannot include more than three moving violations in the past three years.
Even someone with a good driving record may still be involved in an accident. People make mistakes while driving, and a driver that is spending a lot of time on the road such as an Uber or Lyft driver may have a greater chance of being involved in an accident.
Keeping Your Child Safe
While nothing may go wrong if your child used a ridesharing service, you also have to keep in mind that car accidents and other dangerous situations are still a possibility.
Parents may want to consider the fact that they often tell their children not to accept rides from strangers. If your child goes on an Uber trip without you, they are essentially accepting a ride from a stranger. You may want to think twice about your teen’s safety before letting them use Uber or Lyft.