State Loophole Leaves Minors At Risk While Riding Uber and Lyft

BurgerTiime

Well-Known Member

https://www.nbcbayarea.com/news/loc...t-Risk-While-Riding-Uber--Lyft-472645633.html

Allegations of Sexual Harassment

From day care providers to school bus drivers, California regulations require fingerprints and extensive criminal background checks for almost any worker who may be left alone with kids. But those same requirements do not apply to ride-hailing apps like Uber and Lyft, which have become popular with teens.

To help keep kids safe, the state’s Public Utilities Commission relies on the companies to enforce their own policies that prohibit drivers from picking up underage riders traveling alone.

But as the NBC Bay Area Investigative Unit uncovered, those rules are ignored every day, potentially putting thousands of kids at risk.

One Peninsula teenager said she learned about the risks firsthand during an Uber ride home last February. She said her driver made sexual passes after she told him she was only 16.

“He started randomly asking me weird sexual questions,” she said. “He was asking me if I was a virgin; if I wasn’t. How old I was when I lost my virginity.”

Peninsula teenager says she was sexually harassed by her Uber driver. She is now suing the company and her driver for "negligent hiring and supervision." Uber contends the driver is an independent contractor, not an employee.

She asked NBC Bay Area to hide her identity out of fear of further harassment. She said she tried to ignore the driver’s questions until he pulled over on the freeway and asked her to move into the front seat. Feeling alone and scared, she complied.

When the driver finally reached her home the teen said his last words to her made her stomach turn.

“He’s like, ‘Is it wrong that I have a boner right now,’” she said, “and he looked down at his pants and it was really out there. It was disgusting.”

When she contacted Uber the next morning, the company apologized and refunded her fare. Then Uber kicked her off the app, citing customer terms of service that requires all riders to be at least 18 to sign up or ride alone.

With no access to her account, she had no idea who allegedly harassed her and whether he continued to drive.

San Mateo Police Sgt. Amanda Von Glahn said investigators couldn’t find him either. Uber, like many companies, requires a subpoena before it will release a driver’s name to law enforcement. But Von Glahn said police could not obtain a search warrant because the teen’s allegations amount to a misdemeanor and not a felony.

“It’s frustrating that we can’t take that next step,” she said.


San Mateo Police Sergeant Amanda Von Glahn says her agency is investigating the teenager's sexual harassment allegations.

The teen and her family are now suing Uber, citing “negligent hiring and supervising.” But the company contends that the driver is an independent contractor, not an employee. As part of the lawsuit, Uber revealed the driver’s name in court last month, and police are now investigating.

Uber declined an interview request but pointed to its guidelines, stating customers must be at least 18 to sign up or ride alone. A company spokesman said drivers and riders who violate the guidelines “risk losing access” to Uber.

Uber’s main competitor, Lyft, also prohibits unaccompanied minors from using the platform and encourages drivers to cancel rides from kids traveling alone. Those in violation can be “permanently banned,” a Lyft spokesperson told NBC Bay Area.

PROTECTING KIDS

The Peninsula girl’s story is just one of a string of claims from teenagers who allege they were sexually harassed or assaulted while using a ride-hailing app.

Both Uber and Lyft prohibit drivers from picking up minors as part of a compromise with the California Public Utilities Commission. The CPUC requires ride-hailing companies that primarily transport kids to fingerprint their drivers and conduct expensive criminal background checks that include searching child abuse records.

Uber and Lyft fought against imposing those mandates to their background checks, arguing that it’s not necessary because their apps are meant for adults. The CPUC relies on the companies themselves to enforce the policies prohibiting unaccompanied minors from using their services.

But Joanna McFarland, the founder of Hop Skip Drive, a ride-hailing company designed specifically for kids, said she believes every driver who picks up kids should be fingerprinted.

“When driving kids, the bar is higher,” McFarland said, adding, “We have driven hundreds of thousands of children. I think given the scale of several rideshare companies, it’s certainly possible they are driving vast numbers of unaccompanied minors.”

LYFT AND UBER AS THE NEW SCHOOL BUS

While Uber and Lyft guidelines say drivers aren’t supposed to transport kids, NBC Bay Area found some drivers are breaking the rules. The Investigative Unit went undercover near schools and malls across the Bay Area and recorded more than a dozen ride-hailing drivers willing to take underage riders.

NBC Bay Area spoke with one man who drives for both Uber and Lyft who turns down ride requests from minors up to 10 times a week. Mike told NBC Bay Area that he suspects the companies are turning a blind eye to the growing number of kids using their apps and the drivers willing to take them.

“It just takes one time, one incident, and it’s a tragedy,” Mike said. “Regulators need to make sure riders and drivers get the education that this is not acceptable.”

CPUC STRUGGLES TO REGULATE RIDE-HAILING

Commissioner Liane Randolph expressed concern in 2016 that rideshare companies “may be transporting unaccompanied minors.” The CPUC is now considering whether additional regulations are necessary, but hasn’t taken any concrete action.

Nick Zanjani, the head of the agency’s Consumer Protection and Enforcement Division, said the commission intends to debate how to best protect minors using ride-hailing apps in upcoming meetings.

“I think it’s a great idea to tee this important issue up in the context of the proceeding,” he said. “I’m looking forward to seeing the comments that are received and seeing what rules and regulations we can develop.”

In the meantime, Uber and Lyft told NBC Bay Area they encourage drivers to report underage riders to their 24-hour support lines so they can take appropriate action. Lyft will not penalize drivers for canceling minors, according to the company. Last week, Lyft sent an alert to drivers reminding them to decline underage riders.

Mike said it was the first alert he received from the company since he started driving a year ago.
 

weykool

Well-Known Member
Steps Uber/Lyft need to take:
1. Send a message to all riders that they must be 18....hiding it in the TOS is sending the message to drivers is pure craap..
2. When a driver cancels because they are under age the driver should receive the cancellation fee right then instead of having to wait 5 mins for the "No show". Charging under age riders $5.00 for every cancel will get them off the platform.
3. They need to geofence the high schools between 2:30 and 5:00.

Uber and Lyft won't care until they lose a massive lawsuit and then it will get escalated the same way service animals are handled.
 

UberThisMK

Well-Known Member
Could this article be any more one-sided? Unaccompanied minors are using Uber/Lyft so let's blame the drivers, the rideshare companies, and the CPUC. Sure that makes sense. Certainly the parents bear no responsibility here.

When an unaccompanied minor gets transported by Uber or Lyft 2 people have violated the TOS. Drivers should be the last line of defense for keeping unaccompanied minors out of rideshare vehicles. The primary responsibility for fixing this problem lies squarely with parents.
 

somedriverguy

Well-Known Member
Could this article be any more one-sided? Unaccompanied minors are using Uber/Lyft so let's blame the drivers, the rideshare companies, and the CPUC. Sure that makes sense. Certainly the parents bear no responsibility here.

When an unaccompanied minor gets transported by Uber or Lyft 2 people have violated the TOS. Drivers should be the last line of defense for keeping unaccompanied minors out of rideshare vehicles. The primary responsibility for fixing this problem lies squarely with parents.
Last time I checked, a parent or guardian has to sign for a minor's credit card or the account straight up has the parent's card in it. It's not a mystery, these data hoarding companies know damn well that 48 year old Jeff who works in construction and has three kids isnt UBERing home for lunch every day from his kids three schools simultaneously.
 

UberThisMK

Well-Known Member
Charge them a cancellation fee for the first unaccompanied minor offense. If they get reported for the same thing a second time, charge them a fee and ban the kids and their parents from the app. That should help change the behavior.
 

lmarl72936

Well-Known Member
sooooo from my experience 70% maybe even higher of all ride requests in Santa Clarita between 6am and 8am are Kids getting a ride to school..
 

Tuco

Well-Known Member
If you have to get a business license then you should be able to pick up kids....

Just like the bus or taxi....

Parents send you off in an Uber with Chester its their responsibility
 

frumpy mcbumpkin

New Member
Yeah, this isn't going to change until they get sued within an inch of their life. Cancel fee for minors using app would be glorious (never happening.) Actually getting paid to do the right thing, and reducing the amount of short ride/ no tip paxholes?! Sign me up!
 

UberLaLa

Well-Known Member
Bottom line, if we as drivers suspect an unaccompanied minor, ask for proof of age and Cancel before starting trip and move on if they can not prove 18 or over. Uber & Lyft can do whatever they want, and suffer their consequences.

Cigarette companies market to kids, doesn't mean the liquor store has to sell to them.
 

Tuco

Well-Known Member
I have never asked for ID and never would

I would just park around the corner and no show or drive off and force cancel

Cmon UberLaLa you gotta get janky with it

Bottom line, if we as drivers suspect an unaccompanied minor, ask for proof of age and Cancel before starting trip and move on if they can not prove 18 or over. Uber & Lyft can do whatever they want, and suffer their consequences.

Cigarette companies market to kids, doesn't mean the liquor store has to sell to them.
 

UberLaLa

Well-Known Member
I have never asked for ID and never would

I would just park around the corner and no show or drive off and force cancel

Cmon UberLaLa you gotta get janky with it

I have never asked for ID either. I rarely if ever get what looks like a minor. Have received a couple of pings over the years to a high school or two...I simply Cancel and move on once I realize it's a school. Got no time for that. Cancel fees are worse than Ant food...imho.
 
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