SCARSDALE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — As ride-sharing services become more popular, more and more parents are using them to get their kids to and from school and activities.
But is this legal, and is it even safe?
A Scarsdale mother told CBS2’s Natalie Duddridge on Monday she often feels like a taxi driver for her kids, and their friends. But when she and other parents can’t pick them up from school, or take them to activities, she lets them call ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft, using her account.
“I have four kids, so very often I need to utilize that service. And because Uber is trackable, I’m OK with my kids going in an Uber. And they don’t go alone. Typically, they’re with friends,” Judi Boockvar said.
“I feel safe when I take an Uber, but only when I’m with other people,” middle school student “Daphne” said.
Parenting expert Leigh Anne O’Connor said young teens using taxis and ride-sharing services has been popular in the city for years, but more and more parents are sending their kids in ride-sharing services in the suburbs, as they juggle work and extracurricular activities. O’Connor’s own kids, who are 23, 17 and 13, all use ride shares.
“We don’t have to worry about them having enough money for a taxi. We don’t have to worry about drunk driving, which is a big thing, a big concern. They have the app right on their phone so if they feel like they’re in a sticky situation they can just hop in an Uber,” O’Connor said.
But technically, it’s against Uber rules. Even though Uber now offers “Uber Family,” which provides car seats for kids who are riding with their parents, the policy listed on Uber and Lyft’s websites say they don’t pick up anyone under 18 who isn’t traveling with an adult — even though many drivers still do. CBS2’s Duddridge reached out for comment, but didn’t hear back.
Some parents CBS2 spoke to said they would never take the risk of letting their kids ride alone, or at all.
“There’s a stranger in the car. I don’t trust them. I also don’t like taking Uber or Lyft by myself, either, so I don’t feel comfortable having my kids take it alone,” Scarsdale parent Ali Miller said.
There are a few small start-up ride-share programs in the works that plan to offer kid-focused driving services. They would offer background checks and technology that monitors drivers’ speed. But those services aren’t yet readily available in the Tri-State Area.
So until then, experts say if you do use some type of car service — for your kids — make sure its legal. Also, make sure you can track your child’s cellphone, and that there’s someone else in the car with them.
While Uber and Lyft have rules against it, many taxi services do not prohibit unaccompanied minors from hailing a ride.