TORONTO – Parents have long cautioned their kids not to get into cars with strangers. But a new app suggests they should pay for that very service.
Dubbed “Shuddle,” the app is modeled after the popular ride-sharing service Uber – but for kids.
Parents download the Shuddle app and use their smartphone to request a car to pick up their children, or pre-schedule a ride from school to soccer practice, for example. The service charges parents a US$9 monthly subscription fee, plus fares for individual rides.
For some parents this may sound like a safety nightmare – but the company touts safety and security as their top priority.
Shuddle’s safety model is based on what they call the “Shuddle Pass.”
Once parents book a ride, they receive an email with the name and photo of the driver, along with information about the car they drive. Parents then pick a password that the driver must relay to the kids once they arrive in order to verify they are a Shuddle driver.
Parents are also able to track the ride through the app using GPS technology.
“All rides are monitored by Shuddle HQ. You can call our friendly customer support team if you ever need help while a ride is in progress or otherwise,” reads the company’s website.
Additionally, Shuddle says it hires drivers with childcare experience – from nannies, to teachers – and each driver is subject to an intensive screening process that includes a criminal background check and a motor vehicles records check.
Because drivers are required to provide their own vehicles, the company also conducts a strict vehicle inspection to ensure the car is safe and vehicles can be no older than 10 years.
Shuddle also has special insurance to transport kids.
“Shuddle is the only rideshare service insured to transport kids. Our coverage is dependent on regular, in-depth inspections of our safety procedures by the insurance agency,” reads the website. “And that’s in addition to our standard coverage of up to one million dollars for vehicles, drivers and passengers.”
POLL: Would you let your kids use Shuddle?
The app has been met with varying opinions online – some say the service sounds like a great idea for busy parents; others raise concerns about how safe it can really be.
“I’d never,” said on Twitter user in response to an article about Shuddle. “No, thank you,” tweeted another.
Global News contacted Shuddle regarding some of the safety concerns; however, a request for comment wasn’t immediately returned.
The service currently operates in San Francisco, where the company was created, but has plans to expand to other cities soon.