Parents across the country rely on ride share companies to chauffeur their children. Whether it is a ride to and from school, across town for after school activities such as work, or just to visit a friend’s house, many teenagers are using Lyft and Uber as their primary means of transportation when their parents are not available. But is this a good idea?
Conscientious parents and drivers alike understand that trusting the safety of a children to a complete stranger can be dangerous. Not only that, but it is against Uber and Lyft policies for minors to hail a ride unaccompanied by an adult. This is because transporting an underage rider is a potential liability.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), projected fatalities from traffic accidents in the first nine months of 2021 increased approximately 12% compared to the same time period in 2020. This projection is the highest number of traffic related fatalities during the first nine months of any year since 2006. It is also the highest percentage increase during the first nine months in the NHTSA’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System’s history.
Considering the sharp increase in accidents resulting in injury or fatalities throughout the United States, parents of children injured in an accident during a Lyft or Uber ride would find that they are in breach of policy. Not something anyone would want to face on the best of days, let alone when a child is injured or worse. Unfortunately, the potential risks involved does little to stop many families from relying on ride share companies to transport their children.
Another aspect to consider, while the majority of drivers are honest, hardworking individuals, the fact remains that a there are a handful are bad actors that utilize these platforms to prey on unsuspecting victims. This dynamic compounds the danger involved with a minor utilizing ride share platforms for transportation when one considers the risk of injury or death from an accident, especially when coupled with the potential of abduction or assault. Because liability rests on the driver, should anything happen to a minor during a ride, parents would have no recourse against the platform providing the service.
With parents and minors either ignorant of the terms of service, or entitled enough to knowingly break the rules, this leaves enforcement of the policy squarely on the shoulders of drivers. That being said, for every honest driver that refuses to drive a minor, there is one who is willing to turn a blind eye to the age of their passengers. The drivers that refuse to transport minors are clearly not a problem. But the reality is that those that do not follow the rules may not be the kind of person parents would want to be responsible for the safety of their children.
Unfortunately, it all comes down to convenience for many teens and their parents. According to Current, a debit card company that caters to teens, Uber and Lyft customers aged 13 to 18 are the second-most popular merchant behind Apple. This clearly illustrates the sheer volume of teenagers utilizing ride share apps despite the overwhelming safety concerns. Considering the age group of these riders, it should come as no surprise that teenage defiance will overrule the current system unless more stringent age-certifying restrictions are put in place.