Would you let your teen take an Uber or Lyft?
Uber driver says she gets several calls for minors
DETROIT – Would you let your child ride alone, in a car with a complete stranger? An Uber driver called the Local 4 Defenders upset because she is getting calls for minors all the time.
Both Uber and Lyft have policies preventing anyone under 18 from getting in the back seat of a car without an adult, but drivers say it is still happening and they want parents to know it is just not safe.
"The youngest passenger that I knew for a fact because of conversation I started up with this young lady she was 14 years old," said Brandy, an Uber driver who doesn't want to show her face. "I didn't think anything of it because I assumed that as long as they had an account everything was verified."
Another Uber driver called the Local 4 Defenders tip line.
"I feel bad because I have to turn them down when I find out how old they are and usually they're upset and say that they take Uber all the time," another Uber driver said.
This driver says sometimes it's busy parents arranging the rides.
"There was one woman who called me when I was on my way to the ride and she said 'You're going to be going to an elementary school, and I'd like you to pick up my two kids and take them to my house and I'm not going to be there.' And I was just shocked at that. I said 'I'm sorry, I can't do that.' And she was very upset and she said she was an hour away and she had no way to get her children home. And I just said I'm sorry, that's not a safe thing to do is to call a stranger and have them pick up your kids," an Uber driver said.
The ride-share drivers also say some kids are attempting to use the ridesharing app on their own.
Michelle Pariano discovered her daughter was riding with her friends and all of them are under 18 years old. She said one of her daughter's friends had a credit card and had ordered a ride-share before. The teens apparently did four to five rides with different drivers.
"Whether it's somebody's livelihood or just doing it for extra cash on the side, we can't take that risk," Brandy said.
Patty Esselink, community relations officer for Canton police, warns these drivers are strangers alone with children learning where they go to school, where they live and where they do after-school activities.
"It's dangerous. You don't know where that child is getting dropped off at or picked up at," Esselink said. "I know many kids think that nothing's going to happen to them or they've done it before and nothing happened, but it only takes one time for something bad to happen to you, so kids need to understand that it is dangerous when they do that."
Local 4 reached out to Uber and Lyft.
Uber said: "Our terms, which riders and drivers agree to, explicitly state that anyone under 18 must be accompanied by an adult to ride with Uber. Also, our Community Guidelines outline the ways someone can lose access to the app - and which clearly state that an account holder must be over 18.”
Uber said drivers are asked to report an underage rider to the company for further review or investigation. Account holders who let their children use their accounts could lose access to Uber.
It also tells drivers the following: "When picking up riders, if you feel they are underage (under 18 years old), 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."
Lyft also released a statement about this concern.
"As stated in Lyft's terms of service, unaccompanied minors are not permitted on the platform. Children are welcome to join adult passengers in a ride, but aren't permitted to ride alone in a Lyft vehicle. We send periodic reminders to drivers about this and other policies. Drivers have our support in declining or canceling rides for those not following this policy, and their decision to do so will not negatively impact their rating. We encourage anyone with concerns about unaccompanied minors using the Lyft platform to contact our critical response line, which is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, so we can take the appropriate action."
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