I know a lot of parents like to joke that once their kids start getting older, a big part of their job becomes transportation. There is no shortage of soccer practices, rehearsals and pick-ups and that’s just one of the reasons why we’ve seen a huge uptick in requests for minors over the past year. But Uber and even Lyft’s policies might surprise you when it comes to picking up minors. Today, RSG contributor Scott Van Maldegiam takes a look at those policies and what drivers need to know in order to protect themselves.
This is a subject I never really gave much thought to until recently. I am a father of two. I am a pretty boring suburbanite dad and husband. The type no one would even think twice about giving their kids a ride. So when I see kids get in my car, if anything, I am relieved they got me as a driver. But should kids be requesting rides for themselves? Can adults request rides for their kids? What is our responsibility as drivers on this topic? These are some of the questions we will be addressing.
What Are the Rules for Riders?
Before we discuss what we should do as drivers, lets look at what the terms and conditions are for the riders. If you didn’t know this (I didn’t until I researched it), don’t be surprised. The rules are actually different for each company:
- Uber – Account holders must be 18 or over and CANNOT request a ride for riders under 18 unless accompanied by the account holder making the request.
- Lyft – Account holders must be 18 or over.
Children under the age of 18 can take a ride on their own as long as the ride is requested by their parent or guardian
- Sidecar – Account holders must be 18 or over. Sidecar doesn’t specifically state whether minors can get a ride if someone over 18 makes the request.
Update (11/20/15): It looks like Lyft no longer allows minors to request rides even if someone over 18 requests the ride for them (source – h/t RSG reader Leticia).
Should We Allow Minors to Enter Our Vehicles?
At this time, all of the responsibility has been placed on the account holders to abide by the rules. Of course we know there are plenty of people who haven’t been abiding by the rules. As drivers, we are not required to check if someone is a minor or not. We are not the liquor store carding purchases. So, drivers cannot get in trouble and be deactivated by the rideshare companies just for giving underage riders transportation. It is up to the driver’s discretion whether or not to give rides to minors.
Related Article: Top 10 Ways That Uber and Lyft Passengers Are Gaming The System
Regarding insurance, transporting minors should not affect whether or not you are covered. The only way coverage can be affected is if a driver is breaking the law. It is arguable if a driver breaks a rule set by the rideshare company that they may not be covered, but in this case, transporting a minor does not break a rule as it is not the driver’s responsibility to screen for the age of the passenger.
Protect Yourself with a Dashcam
I know we sound like a broken record, but a dashcam can protect you against he-said-she-said situations. The video will not lie. And in situations of rideshare driver against minor passenger, the driver will always be assumed guilty. Pointing out to kids that they are on candid camera will make sure they behave if the kid(s) in your car are on the unruly side.
Related Article: The Most Epic Dashcam Review For Rideshare Drivers
As it becomes more common place for parents to use rideshare as a way to shuttle their kids around, I expect the age of the kids using the service will come down. Having a booster seat in the car is a very good way to make sure your child passengers are safely secured by a seat belt. I don’t think it is necessary to have an infant car seat in the car. I can’t imagine a parent transporting a baby without someone accompanying the baby. If that ever happened, I would cancel the ride.
Child in the Back
Along with protecting against any false accusations with a dashcam, it is a very good idea to make kids ride in the back. While it is safer to ride in the back, it also takes the kid out of arms reach. Let me give you an example of a situation that could occur.
I am not sure if any of you do this, but if I have a passenger in the front seat and I have to slam on my brakes, I will reach across to the passenger in an effort to restrain them even though they have a seat belt that will do a much better job than I ever could. If this person were a minor and while doing this, I put my hand on the kid, I could be accused of something. Maybe this is a bit of an unrealistic example, but I would rather be safe than sorry and have the kids ride in the back.
Mistakes are Magnified
Our society is very protective of children. This is a good thing. But for us drivers, this means that if we say the wrong thing or offend a child in some way, the consequences are likely to be more severe. For example, if an adult is acting unruly, we can kick them out of the vehicle in a safe place. If a child is acting unruly, is it still ok to kick them out of the car? Probably not.
If you put yourself in the shoes of a parent whose child you transported and the child does a “you won’t believe what the driver did (or said) to me…”, you will be one step ahead in preventing a bad outcome. Especially if you think, not just like a parent, but an over-protective, my-kids-can-do-no-wrong type of parent.
Have you noticed an increase in the number of rides given to minors lately? What do you do, if anything, to protect yourself against in these situations?
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-Scott @ RSG
Scott Van Maldegiam
Latest posts by Scott Van Maldegiam (see all)
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- What Can Happen If You Don’t Have Rideshare Insurance? - June 15, 2016