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Should Uber Drivers and Lyft Drivers Pick Up Minors and Underage Passengers?

There have been a few articles in the news lately about Uber drivers and Lyft drivers giving rides to underage passengers, minors who are under 18 years old. Both Lyft’s terms of service and Uber’s term of service requires that passengers are at least 18 years old or accompanied by an adult. Underage passengers add an additional level of liability for the drivers since there may be issues with insurance coverage for something that is not allowed on the terms of service.

Here is the wording from Lyft’s page on “Ensuring passenger safety as a driver”

Don’t pick up minors unaccompanied by an adult

Passengers are more than welcome to request rides for their friends, though we do ask that they give you a heads up. Children 17 or under, however, are not permitted to ride without being accompanied by an adult. If you believe that a ride request was made on behalf of an unaccompanied minor, contact Lyft Support immediately by tapping ‘Contact Support’ below.

Here is the wording from Uber’s page on “Requests from underage riders”

Requests from underage riders

A rider must be at least 18 years of age to have an Uber account and request rides. Anyone under 18 must be accompanied by someone 18 years of age or older on any ride.

As a driver-partner in a city that doesn’t allow minors to ride, you should decline the ride request if you believe the person requesting the ride is under 18. When picking up riders, if you feel they are underage, you may request they provide a driver’s license or ID card for confirmation. If a rider is underage, please do not start the trip or allow them to ride.

Uber Drivers and Lyft Drivers Shouldn’t Pick Up Underage Passengers

There is too much liability on the Uber drivers and Lyft drivers when they pick up underage passengers who are under 18 years of age. There are some drivers who claim that all they get are request from underage passengers so not picking up children could be a hit financially since the driver may have spent time driving to a location and now they have to cancel the ride because the passengers are underage.

I wish there was a fee that could be charged to the account holder for a canceled trip due to a minor. It would have to involve picture documentation since drivers could easily say that it was an unaccompanied minor and automatically get a cancellation fee. However, I do my best to see where the pickup location is before I start driving, especially around the time when school lets out in the early afternoon.

If you don’t think picking up unaccompanied minors is a big issue, think about the next scenario.

Lyft Line or UberPool with a Child Predator

I have received a few Line and Pool request from children. Luckily, it was the first request so I was able to ignore the request and move on. However, what if you had a child predator as the first passenger and then a child gets into your car? You wouldn’t know unless the first passenger started to act inappropriately towards the child. What if the first passenger ends up assaulting the child? Would the Uber driver or Lyft driver be an accomplice to the crime or be liable for damages?

This is the situation that most parents don’t think about. They believe that it is convenient and safe, but there are very few rules governing other passengers. Parents could tell their children to not use Lyft Line or Uberpool, but it doesn’t remove all the risks involved in driving unaccompanied minors in your personal vehicle.

How Can I Avoid Picking Up Unaccompanied Minors?

There are certain times and places I avoid driving through because I know that it is a request from a minor. There are some parts of the city that have many schools and I try to avoid them if I am driving around 2-3pm. I try to stay near a business district during those times to reduce the chance I get a request from a minor. Sometimes, the request comes from a high school or a middle school so it is easy to see and ignore. However, some requests are at an address and you won’t know that it is a school until you get there or you accept and check the map. I have canceled a few requests in any given week but I have never gotten in trouble for it. I check off “passenger is underage” on either Lyft or Uber and move on. It is noted on your cancellation rate but I have not received a warning about it since Lyft and Uber are now fully aware of the problem with underage passengers or unaccompanied minors.

I occasionally get a request or two in the morning from either parents or children to take them to school but I always refuse it. It is not worth the liability to drive children around. Of course, minors always claim that no one else refused a ride but it doesn’t make it right for me to drive them around. I personally don’t have much faith in Lyft cracking down on this issue since the “account owner” could claim that they requested a ride for their children as a parent and that it won’t happen again. Then they continue to get rides. It takes a few complaints before an account is shut down, but nothing is preventing them from opening another account.

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