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Uber Babysitting

Published by Casandria in the blog Casandria's blog.

A recent post from a driver who was asked to drive two 14 year old girls to the movies by a mother and then stay with them during the movie before bringing them home may seem extreme, but after doing some digging, it seems to actually be the new norm.

There seems to be an across the board perception by pax that Uber drivers are safer than cab drivers. I have no clue where this misconception originated, especially given the media coverage as of late, but believe me, it's there. I've had numerous pax tell me they feel safer with an Uber driver. I'm not saying one is safer over the other, but rather there really isn't that great of a difference either way and the more intense background checks done for cab drivers coupled with the other requirements would make cab drivers logically safer overall. The vast difference in the vetting would question that logic, but it's there just the same.

Teens and even a few pre-teens are using their parents' accounts to request rides, mostly with parental permission. Parents are requesting rides for their children while they aren't even in the country. Sound outlandish? Then you haven't been driving for Uber long enough.

My husband recently had a pickup request at the mall. The pax told him he was in front of Dillards. He drove past all 3 entrances and didn't see anyone. He called the pax and was told he had requested the ride for his son and he was in, wait for it, Germany. He was going to tell his son to go outside right away. Yes, you read that correctly. The father was physically in Germany and had requested an Uber for his teenage son and his girlfriend here in San Antonio.

As we were discussing this trend and he said he doesn't mind giving kids a safe ride home and would hope someone would do the same for our kids if the need arose. I have a completely different take on all of this. Yes, I am happy to get children home safely, but I don't agree that sticking them in a car with a stranger is the way to do it. The only way I would let my children come home in an Uber or a taxi, for that matter, would be in case of an emergency where we couldn't get to them ourselves and no family or friends were available.

Perhaps I'm being over-protective, but generally speaking, it's not my parenting style. They surf the net without parental controls, walk to the park alone and stay there after dark. They ride their bikes around the neighborhood, spend the night with their friends, we rarely say no to them because they are good kids who know the rules, follow them (most of the time) and we trust them enough to make good choices while understanding that making bad choices and suffering the consequences is part of growing up. Our family TV shows are Walking Dead and Better Call Saul so strict and over-protective aren't really in our parenting description.

Now before you race to call CPS, you should know they are all 14 and older, we keep the 15 year old's laptop during the school week because he has Aspergers and will end up glued to Minecraft until 4am otherwise. We took away our 14 year old daughter's Kindle because we had been asking her to clean her room for 10 days without much progress. I get a notification every time a grade drops below 85 and I don't hesitate to email a teacher when something is missing. We have a weekly chore chart that everyone participates in so we aren't just sitting around letting them do whatever they want, we just don't believe in helicopter parenting.

So, with that all cleared up, let's get back to the crux of the matter. Is putting your kid in an Uber car really safe and what are the liabilities for the driver? Uber and Lyft are both clear on unaccompanied minors, but the pax's parental units don't seem to care. We all know kids who are wise and manipulative beyond their years. What if a damaged 15 year old decides to accuse a driver of rape? What if the driver has an accident? What if it's a really bad accident? The fact that the parent put that child in the car or authorized it will be moot. That parent will be demanding the driver's head on a spike.

What is a driver to do? Do you take the risk or do you politely decline? In the immortal words of Keanu Reeves, “What do you do? What do you do?”
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