Child safety is a major issue, not because it is State controlled, but because it is about securing children during a ride. Rideshare drivers should always put their passenger's safety first. In a recent test, ABC15 Investigator Dave Biscobing took a mother and her infant and went undercover to check out how Uber and Lyft drivers react to safety issues.
The test covered four rides in the State of Arizona, where the law requires passengers under 8 years old or less than 4 feet 9 inches to sit in a proper child safety seat. Two of the rides were with Uber and two with Lyft, where the rides were set for the same location and were metered at 30 minutes apart from each other.
Biscobing is a professional reporter, and the mother was Adrian Sanchez, accompanied by her 10-year-old daughter Amelia. The test design was set by Biscobing entering the vehicle first, and then he would ask if the driver would be OK driving without securing the child in a car seat. If the driver agrees, then Biscobing would stop the driver a few moments after starting the ride and explain that the ride was a test to prove the situation. The results proved that 3 out of the four drivers would accept the ride without securing the children properly. The test is not empiric, so it does not prove a national trend, for that, a larger cohort study would need to be taken to prove that the local test is, in fact, a national issue.
The first ride tested was with a male Lyft driver that told Biscobing that it was fine since he would drive carefully. After being stopped by Biscobing, the driver explained that he gets a lot of requests that include a parent with a child, usually in the morning when driving the child to school on the way to the parent's work. He then asked, "what are we supposed to do?"
The second ride was driven by a female Uber driver. This driver told Biscobing that she was worried driving an unsecured child, to which Biscobing asked her if she knew the state laws regarding child passengers. The driver did not know them, and when told what the state laws were, she stated her concern of her personal liability as the main issue and not the child's safety. She then told Biscobing that she was willing to wait for them to get a car seat or that they hold the child tight.
The third ride was a male Lyft driver; he told Biscobing that it was OK to drive as long as they were OK that the child was not secured. After which he pulled away and was immediately stopped by Biscobing who informed him of the test and asked the driver if he was aware of specific instructions from Lyft about child safety, to which the driver answered that he had not received any information from Lyft.
The Fourth ride was a male Uber driver; this driver told Biscobing it was OK to drive as long as they held onto their child very tight.
Company Response and Policy
ABC15 contacted both Uber and Lyft to get their opinions on the test results, as well as their policy for child safety issues.
Uber's policy is that drivers must refuse rides where a child cannot be secured according to State laws.
Uber spokesperson stated that "Drivers and riders who violate these guidelines risk losing access to Uber" and added that "Uber's community guidelines lay out our expectation that drivers using the Uber app follow all relevant state, federal, and local laws and the rules of the road at all times. Drivers and riders who violate these guidelines risk losing access to Uber."
Lyft policy is that drivers must refuse rides where a child cannot be secured according to State laws.
Lyft spokesperson stated to ABC15 that "it is Lyft's policy that passengers are welcome to bring children in the car provided they have the proper car seats that fit legal requirements in their state and city. Safety is our top priority, and young children should not be traveling in any vehicle - a taxi, rideshare service, or personal car - without the proper safety equipment. Drivers should know that they have our full support declining a ride for passengers who do not follow Lyft's safety policies, and their decision to do so will not impact their rating," the spokesperson added that they have a critical response line and that anyone concerned should contact that line immediately.
A driver speaks out
Phoenix, Arizona Uber and Lyft driver Robert Burgess told ABC15 that he sees these issues all the time and tries to teach drivers of their mistakes without much success. In one instance he managed to record a situation at Sky Harbor Airport when he was captured on video together with an airport security guard to a driver about to take a mother and young child without a proper child seat. Burgess approaches the driver that he cannot legally or safely drive without a child seat, the driver ignored Burgess and drove off.
The common response, according to Burgess, is that drivers do not take responsibility, they all reply the same way when asked "All of the other drivers do it," which is a truly stupid statement.