Uber and Lyft, two of the most commonly used Transportation Network Companies (TNC), don’t allow drivers to transport minors without an adult in the car, but local drivers say it continues to happen, putting drivers and riders at risk.
Chris, a local driver who did not want to share his last name, said he gets one or two requests from someone under 18 years old every night. Chris says he cancels those rides when he learns they are a minor. He says it is a liability for drivers and safety issue for the kids.
“This comes down to the old stranger-danger thing,” he said. “When I was a kid, my parents told me under no circumstances do you get into a car with someone you don’t know.”
Both Uber and Lyft have the same policy. People under 18 are not allowed to ride alone. Drivers can ask for an ID if they believe that person is underage. Drivers are not supposed to give underage children a ride.
Chris says some drivers give rides to minors. He says they don’t know the rules or don’t care.
“The two most common rebuttals in this situation are, ‘I’ve done this all the time, or I’m going a short distance,’” said Chris. “Neither of those rebuttals are valid to me. It doesn’t matter how many times you broke the rule, it doesn’t matter how short the distance is, it’s against the rules.”
In a statement to KATU News, an Uber spokesperson said, “”Safety is our top priority. Unaccompanied minors are not permitted on the platform. Drivers have our support in complying with this policy.”
Other drivers say they deal with the same thing, in Oregon and in other states.
A driver in Los Angeles, with a YouTube channel called Dave the Uber Slave, has posted several videos about minors trying to request rides. In one video, he explains to the minors that they should not be using Uber without someone over 18.
“Did you know you are supposed to be 18 to use Uber and Lyft?” he said in the video.
One of the underage kids told the driver that he knows the rules, but still uses often. He said if a driver denies him a ride, then he will request another ride.
Chris created cards to hand out while he is driving. They explain the rules for both Lyft and Uber, even links to each company’s policy. He posted them to his website for other drivers to download for free.
Parents seem to have different opinions.
Marvin Talbert, a father, says he would not let his kids ride in an Uber or Lyft alone.
“I would be more concerned with the Uber drivers at that point, taking advantage of underage kids,” he said.
Keith Sconiers, another father, said he would let his kid ride in an Uber or Lyft within reason. He said parents and kids need to be aware of what they’re doing.
“If he was under 18 but over 16, I would let him take an Uber or Lyft,” Sconiers said.
KATU News signed up for both Uber and Lyft to see if it ever asked for a user’s age in the process. Nowhere did it ask if we were over 18. You must click through the Terms and Conditions to see the rules prohibiting minors from using the application without an adult.
Taxi companies do not have the same rules. Noah Ernst, operations manager with Radio Cab in Portland, says they will give a ride to an unaccompanied minor in certain situations.
Ernst said their drivers go through stricter background checks and their cars are easily identifiable, making them safer than an Uber or Lyft. He said they partner with some school districts to provide rides to and from school for certain children. Ernst said those drivers are specially trained.