An incident in Chicago involving two elementary-aged children and a Lyft driver has highlighted an ongoing problem with Lyft and Uber services. According to CBS Local Chicago, a girl and a boy were placed into a Lyft ordered for them by a parent. The driver was instructed to stop at two different schools, but seemingly ignored the destination for the girl. When they arrived at the boy's destination, the pair both fled inside and alerted an adult. It's currently not clear why the driver skipped the first destination, or what his intentions were. Lyft has suspended his account while police investigate.
While the incident is upsetting, experts say it's not uncommon for children to be shuttled to and from places by these private hire companies, despite it being against Lyft and Uber policies.
Both taxi services forbid anyone under the age of 18 from setting up an account. Minors are also banned from taking a ride without an adult present, but some parents are ignoring this, perhaps because they don't realize. Parents shouldn't put their children in this position, says Legal Rideshare attorney Brian Greening, who says that there's no excuse for putting kids in a car with a stranger.
Greening elaborates that it's not just Lyft and Uber, but also Uber Eats, where drivers are frequently being asked to drop off McDonald's to schools. While the companies advise them not to, some drivers use their own discretion. Another common instance, in Chicago especially, involves parents booking cars to take kids to after school activities, like soccer practice and other events.
Uber explicitly tells drivers to decline the request if they feel a person is under the age of 18, telling drivers to ask passengers to confirm their age. If they're found to be under the minimum age, they are supposed to cancel the trip. Lyft has similar instructions, but also encourage drivers to report these requests to transport minors to head office.
Users breaking the terms they agreed to when they downloaded the apps can be permanently banned from requesting rides. Terms and conditions can be found on both the Uber and Lyft websites.