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Parents turn to Uber to shuttle kids, even though it's not allowed

Susannah Bryan, Sun Sentinel on

Published in Parenting News

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- Teenager Emily Lieber needed a ride home from the bus stop, so she did what her parents might do: She called Uber.

When the driver showed up, he told the Hollywood, Fla., teen, then 13, that she was too young to ride. So she called another Uber. And off she went.

Emily is one of many teens who are turning to ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft to help them meet their busy schedules, particularly as school starts back up. Some parents even use the services to get their children to school.

It's against company policy -- but it is not illegal -- for drivers to pick up anyone under 18 unless they have an adult with them, but many drivers do it anyway and many parents don't know it violates the rules.

Teens who violate Uber's under-18 rule risk losing their account, said company spokeswoman Jodi Page. She said some underage riders have been removed from the app, but she declined to say how many.

Uber officials would neither explain the reason for the under-18 rule nor answer questions about how they are enforcing it. They also declined to say what happens to drivers who transport underage riders.

"Our terms and conditions and community guidelines specifically state that an account holder needs to be an adult (18 or older) to have an account," Page said via email. "If not, a parent or guardian must be with them at all times. When riders sign up they agree to follow this policy."

But some say Uber is well aware of the growing trend that bucks their own policy.

"They know what's happening and are looking the other way," said Harry Campbell, a Los Angeles-based blogger at The Rideshare Guy. "It's kind of a mess for drivers because they're getting tons of requests for rides from teens and Uber is not doing anything (to enforce its own rule)."

Lyft officials declined to answer any questions for this story.

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