Parents using Uber, Lyft to drive unaccompanied kids around town

Many don't know it's against the rules
Posted at 9:57 PM, Jun 09, 2017
and last updated 2017-06-10 03:18:15-04

DENVER -- When she is not busy running a Mexican restaurant in Denver, Tara (who asked to have her identity concealed for privacy) is a single mother and unpaid taxi driver for her three teens.

"I've been a chauffeur for a very, very long time," she said with a smile. "Practice, Parkour, soccer, karate, school. Yeah, that's all you do -- is drive your kids around. That's the name of the game. "

But one person can't be everywhere, she said, which is when she first started using Lyft.

"It's like the new thing. Everybody is doing it," she said.

For Lyft and Uber drivers like Missy Collins, driving kids is becoming more and more common.

"As a mother myself, I know how difficult it can be to get children from point A to point B," said Collins. "I understand what they're going through."

However, driving unaccompanied minors is against the rules. Both Uber and Lyft don't allow unaccompanied passengers under age 18.

"I don't feel like it's a safety issue, it's an insurance issue," said Collins, who is concerned about liability when she drives children under 18.

Uber and Lyft tell Denver7 that insurance isn't the issue, stating that the reason for the rule is safety. Uber says if passengers violate the policy and drivers report them, they could lose access to the app.

But drivers like Debbie, who asked us to protect her identity to protect her job, say both companies look the other way.

"And I guarantee every driver does it. Even if they say they don't. I guarantee they are," she said. 

In fact, drivers can actually be dinged for not accepting ride requests, especially with Uber, which she said is not responsive to driver complaints.

So Debbie makes sure her dash cam is always rolling ("It's my protection," she said), and she hopes the rules will be changed to allow children to ride.

"If they're checking us out and we're safe to drive adults, we should be safe to drive kids as well," she said.

An Uber Teen program is being tested in a few cities, allowing minors to ride and allow parents to track them, which in reality is already happening.

"They might as well just jump on board," said Tara, who said she was worried at first about letting her kids ride with strangers, so she would always meet the drivers. She said not one has turned down a ride, which makes her life a lot easier.