The Gore Law Firm’s Series on Driver Services (For part one, “Driver Services and Insurance, click here).

For parents, transporting your children around can be vexing to your schedule.  There seems to be no shortage of doctors’ appointments, after-school activities, play dates, parties, and other obligations.  As drivers services such as Lyft and Uber have become more popular, parents are relying on these companies more often to save time and help pick up their children.  But is that a good idea?

Company Policy:  According to Lyft and Uber company policies, those requesting rides should be over the age of 18.  On Lyft’s Terms of Service page, the company specifies that they do not allow minors to request rides, even if an adult requests the ride for them: “The Lyft Platform may only be used by individuals who can form legally binding contract under applicable law.  The Lyft Platform is not available to children (persons under the age of 18)…” Similarly, Uber’s Terms of Use page indicates that the Uber “Service is not available for use by persons under the age of 18. You may not authorize third parties to use your Account, and you may not allow persons under the age of 18 to receive transportation or logistics services from Third Party Providers unless they are accompanied by you.”  In other words, to order a Lyft or Uber, you must be 18 years or older.  Children 17 years and younger can legally ride in a Lyft or Uber car, but must be accompanied by an adult.

Whose Responsibility?:  Driver service companies place responsibility on the riders to both understand and abide by the rules.  However, based on the frequency of parents using Lyft and Uber to pick up or drop off their children, it is evident that plenty of people are not following those rules.  It is important to note that it is within the driver’s discretion whether to transport unaccompanied minors.  These drivers may be motivated to transport children, because declining rides means they may be deactivated from Lyft or Uber, and no longer allowed to drive for these companies.  So, it is in their interest to transport children, despite company rules and policies.

Safety Considerations:  Some parents may argue that they feel comfortable using the Lyft or Uber app to request a pickup for their child, because they can track the ride on GPS and watch their son or daughter travel from place to place.  But in essence, those parents are entrusting their child’s welfare with a stranger.  Lyft and Uber drivers do undergo background checks, but not to the same extent as taxi drivers (who are fingerprinted).  Also, parents are putting these drivers in the role of a guardian – not only transporting them, but making sure they are protected, treated well, and behaving appropriately throughout the ride.  What happens, for example, if a child misbehaves?  Lyft and Uber drivers can cancel rides and drop off unruly adult riders, but how should they handle an unruly child, while they are driving?  Further, not all driver services are equipped with the proper child safety seats.  (UberX has a “car seat” option for an extra fee; UberFamily does not appear to be available in Atlanta yet).

While driver service companies have policies in place about children, it seems that parents are still using the service, and drivers are still willing to transport those unaccompanied minors.  But parents, before you order a ride, keep in mind the safety of your children and the potential issues associated with such transportation.  For more information about driver safety, or if you need help with a personal injury claim, give The Gore Law Firm a call today at (404) 436-1529.

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