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Do Lyft and Uber Have A Problem With Unaccompanied Minors?

Lyft and Uber makes it easy for anyone with a credit card to sign up for the service and request a ride with your smartphone. However, they have made it so easy that even children can sign up for an account and order a ride, even though this is specifically against Lyft’s and Uber’s terms of service.

The news has reported 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.

Parents Let Their Children Use Uber or Lyft

The biggest problem is that parents are letting their children use Uber or Lyft without knowing that it is against Lyft’s and Uber’s terms of service. Parents believe that it is convenient and safe so they allow their children to use it. Lyft and Uber reduces the parent’s workload of shuttling their children to/from school and to/from their afterschool activities. However, parents are unaware of the risks and dangers of trusting a stranger to drive their children around.

I had a request from the mother to take her 11 year old to middle school. Once I saw how young he was, I asked him where he was going and he said middle school. I then told him to go back home and to tell his mother rideshare drivers can’t drive underage passengers without them present. I wrote a small note in the comments after cancelling the Lyft ride and was surprised to get a call from Lyft support hours later to talk about the ride. This was more than a year ago and now there are specific options to select for canceling a ride for underage passengers.

In this day and age with all the criminals we hear about in the news, I would never trust another Lyft or Uber driver to drive my children around. All it takes is just one mistake on a background check to allow a potential criminal to drive on Lyft or Uber. If you don’t trust strangers to hold your kids, you shouldn’t let them drive them around too.

If the parents didn’t know about this rule, then the first driver to report it to Lyft or Uber will force Lyft or Uber to notify the account holder about the violation, assuming that the account holder is the parent. If the account holder is the child, it will be very hard for the parent to find out about this rule.

Parents Don’t Know Their Children is Using Uber or Lyft

The next biggest problem is that parents often don’t know their children is using Uber or Lyft. Parents are unaware that anyone with a credit card can sign up, which some children have these days. Even if their children don’t have credit cards, their friends have credit cards and it is their friends who orders the Lyft or Uber ride.

Below is an article of parents who didn’t know that their kids were using Uber or Lyft

Defenders discover children are violating Uber, Lyft policies for underage riders

Do Lyft and Uber Have A Problem With Unaccompanied Minors?

In my over four year rideshare experience, I don’t get many request from unaccompanied minors, but requests have been increasing in the past year or so. Many kids have found ways around Lyft and Uber to request rides for themselves. Lyft and Uber rides have gotten cheaper to the point that it is financially feasible to use Lyft and Uber as a personal school bus to take them to school. Lyft and Uber are finally starting to take this problem seriously and it is only because there have been a few articles across the country documenting this issue and raising awareness of the risks involved with children taking Lyft and Uber.

Is There a Solution to Unaccompanied Minors on Lyft and Uber?

There are no easy solutions to this problem since Lyft and Uber has made it so easy to sign up and get rides. Lyft or Uber could institute age verification to ensure that the account holder was at least 18 years old. This will only eliminate the problem of underage account holders, but not underage passengers. The account holder could be their relative (cousin for example) who was 18 years old and he/she requests the ride for their underage cousin.

Lyft and Uber could enforce this rule on drivers but as a rideshare driver, it can be very difficult to see who is underage and who is an adult. Most drivers don’t want to ask every passenger if they are 18 and over. Even if they were not 18 years old, an unaccompanied minor could always lie.

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