FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — Teenager Emily Lieber wanted a experience residence from the bus cease, so she did what her mother and father may do: She referred to as Uber.
When the driving force confirmed up, he advised the Hollywood, Fla., teen, then 13, that she was too younger to experience. So she referred to as one other Uber. And off she went.
Emily is considered one of many teenagers who’re turning to experience-hailing providers like Uber and Lyft to assist them meet their busy schedules, notably as faculty begins again up. Some mother and father even use the providers to get their youngsters to faculty.
It’s towards firm coverage — however it’s not unlawful — for drivers to decide up anybody underneath 18 until they’ve an grownup with them, however many drivers do it anyway and lots of mother and father don’t comprehend it violates the principles.
Teens who violate Uber’s under-18 rule danger dropping their account, stated firm spokeswoman Jodi Page. She stated some underage riders have been faraway from the app, however she declined to say what number of.
Uber officers would neither clarify the rationale for the under-18 rule nor reply questions on how they’re implementing it. They additionally declined to say what occurs 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 stated by way of e mail. “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 properly conscious of the rising development that bucks their very own coverage.
“They know what’s happening and are looking the other way,” stated 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).”
Critics say mother and father who let their youngsters take Uber and Lyft are taking a danger as a result of their drivers aren’t put by way of the identical rigorous background checks utilized to cab drivers.
“Just because an app makes it easy, doesn’t mean it’s safe — or wise,” stated Dave Sutton, spokesman for WhosDrivingYou.org, a taxi business group that’s pushing for stricter screening guidelines for Uber and Lyft drivers.
“It’s important to screen out a bad driver ahead of time,” Sutton stated. “Once you’re in the car, it’s too late.”
Yellow Cab President John Camillo says his firm requires intensive background checks carried out by regulation enforcement.
“Every driver is fingerprinted,” he stated. “If my driver does not use the proper name, you can’t fool the fingerprints. They are sent to the FBI and they do a national search. I think our background checks are infinitely better.”
All Uber drivers bear a background verify that features a evaluate of their driving report and legal historical past, Page stated. The screening is completed by a background verify service accredited by the National Association of Professional Background Screeners. Uber additionally offers stay GPS monitoring and a “Share My Trip” function that lets clients share journey particulars in actual time with household and buddies, she stated.
Still, some Uber drivers have been accused of crimes towards their passengers, critics word.
A yr in the past, a Boca Raton, Fla., man working as an Uber driver was arrested after three ladies accused him of rape in three separate incidents. And in May, an Uber driver in Kissimmee, Fla., was accused of raping a 14-year-previous buyer touring alone who had requested a journey to her aunt’s home.
South Florida mother Rhonda Tescher has seen the headlines, however lets her 15-year-previous daughter take Uber so long as she has two associates alongside.
“I never let her take it by herself,” she stated.
Allyson Tomchin, Emily’s mother, had no clue about Uber’s “no unaccompanied minors” coverage and neither did her youngsters, who vary in age from 13 to 17.
Tomchin says her youngsters began utilizing Uber a few years in the past as a result of it’s handy and low cost. To catch a journey, clients simply obtain a free app and pay for rides utilizing their smartphones.
Tomchin’s stepdaughter Emily, now 14, has taken Uber dozens of occasions and was denied a experience for being underage solely that one time.
“It doesn’t surprise me the company has that rule, but it’s definitely not being enforced,” Tomchin stated.
She stated Uber has been a godsend for her and her husband, Rand Lieber.
“We have super busy schedules and so do the kids,” she stated. “We’re all doing different things at different times. Uber helps us accommodate everyone’s schedule.”
She additionally thinks her youngsters will probably be protected so long as they Uber collectively.
“I know the name of the driver, the license plate and the route they’re driving,” she stated.
But not each father or mother is a fan.
Jennifer Rosinski, a Cooper City, Fla., mother with 4 youngsters, says she would by no means ship any of them off on their very own with an Uber driver.
“I don’t think it’s safe,” she stated. “I’m just not comfortable putting my child in a car with someone I don’t know.”
Boca Raton dad Bruce Gipson says his 17-year-previous daughter has taken Uber a couple of occasions to get to and from work — with out his information.
“I didn’t know she’d used it until I asked her how she got home,” he stated. “I’m not real thrilled about it because you don’t know who’s picking you up.”
Gipson, a retired Miami Beach firefighter, says he had no concept about Uber’s ban on transporting minors.
Now, he stated, he longer has to fear about it.
“I bought her a car in December,” he stated.