It’s crazy to think that the two companies that handle more than 99% of the U.S. Rideshare market are not concerned about rider safety, especially when it comes to unaccompanied minors using the service.
Over the past few years, drivers have seen a huge increase in the amount of underage riders calling for an Uber or Lyft. In many ways it seems luck has been on these companies side when it comes to incidents involving riders under the age of 18. We’ve all heard the weekly news of riders and drivers alike being threatened, raped, or even killed. What we do not hear about is the amount of riders under the age of 18 who use these services, and the number of drivers that take them. If there is a safety concern for adults, why is it not being considered a major concern for unaccompanied minors?
It is against the “Terms Of Service” (TOS) of both the Uber and Lyft platforms for minors to ride in vehicles without an adult.
. Drivers are aware of this, yet many still choose to pick up these children and drive them as if it were a normal ride. The amount of children using the app, either via their parents account or their own account has been rising in recent years. Both, Lyft and Uber, occasionally send drivers a reminder about not accepting these rides. The rideshare giants have not aggressively approached all riders using the app to make sure they are NOT letting their children use rideshare without an adult. This begs the question, why are Uber and Lyft not reminding parents of the dangers of minors riding with strangers, even when it goes against the TOS that all users agree too?
As a driver in a large city, I can tell you first hand I turn down so many requests to allow a minor in my vehicle. Shockingly, most minors have responses such as “I use the service all the time”, or “I had no idea”. I used to believe the second response a couple years back, but not anymore. At this point, I feel I have heard it all from these young riders. I often call the passenger associated with the account and get a parent on the line, when I tell them I am at the pickup location but their child is not 18 years old, I get an eye-popping response of “It’s okay, I give you permission to drive my son/daughter”. WOW! First of all I was not asking for your permission, I am calling to let you know they are doing this on your app. Second, it is against the TOS for drivers to let unaccompanied minors into their vehicles. Obviously a parent saying this speaks volumes as to the parenting going on here. Being a parent myself, I can’t imagine letting my children ride alone with Uber or Lyft simply because it is not safe to put my child in a stranger’s car (with or without the TOS stating it is not allowed). The safety concerns here are endless!
Like clockwork, around 3pm every weekday during the school year, I get requests from a high school for a pickup. In my experience, 9 out of 10 requests come from minors when pickup is at a high school. I accept, and I tell them they must cancel, or I wait until I can cancel as “unaccompanied minor”. I usually pull up behind two police cars that park in the same place when school gets out, to see how many more minors will attempt to request a ride. It is not uncommon for me to get the same person 3-4 times in a row, and I accept the request to make them cancel again. As the years go bye, I keep seeing more and more teens trying to get around this rule that all users agree to when signing up for an account.
For me it is not about the $4 cancellation fee I receive, it is about trying to flag accounts that are allowing minors to be put in danger. I figure that flagging the accounts “unaccompanied minors” are attempting to use will assist in action being taken against the account. These accounts should be frozen or closed as they are breaking the TOS agreements.
To open a rider account, Uber and Lyft only require a credit card and phone number, leaving way too much gray area and providing little assistance for drivers to determine a riders age. Using no proof of identity for these accounts make it easy for minors to use, as well as the fact that they do not require the account holder to be present for the ride. This gives minors several options to get rides from both Uber and Lyft, they can simply open an account of their own with their own information, or they can just use their parents account. It often happens after I refuse a ride to an unaccompanied minor that they immediately request another ride through the app, and a driver comes and picks them up. This leaves me wondering if the driver knows he can’t pick up children, or does he simply not care? I think it is a little of both. There are drivers who do not know, but there are more drivers who just don’t care.
Clearly, both Uber and Lyft need to bring much more attention to this problem. Every week we see something in the news about a rider or driver being attacked or worse. Parents are putting their children in danger of this happening to them. The rideshare companies will find themselves in a position that they won’t be able to handle as easily as when it involves adults. Not to mention the position the driver will find themselves in. There is absolutely no reason why both Uber and Lyft shouldn’t email all riders/passengers, that “unaccompanied minors” attempting to use the app will be deactivated immediately! UNLESS, both these companies know this is happening and would rather turn a blind eye to the problem for profits sake. In so doing, hoping that the burden of letting these youngsters in rideshare vehicles will fall solely on the driver. Regardless, there is so much more both Uber and Lyft should be doing and are not.
Please parents, make sure your children are not using these apps to get rides, and that they are not getting rides through a friends app either. No matter how you look at this, there is no okay situation for minors to use Uber or Lyft alone. Don’t risk your children’s safety for convenience, that is never a winning strategy.
Author: SJ [UberLyftDrivers.com]