In just a few short years, ride-sharing services have proven themselves to be a fairly convenient, cost-effective way for people to get around. However, some drivers say things can get a bit tricky when it comes to passengers with a child that needs a car seat.
In Toronto, taxis are considered a form of public transportation. So just like on a bus, passengers are not required to use a car seat in a cab.
But Uber and Lyft drivers must have a car seat to drive around a child younger than eight, less than 80 pounds and shorter than four feet nine inches tall.
Ride-sharing drivers are not required to travel with a car seat though, so many don’t.
“A lot of drivers are willing to get car seats but there is liability because they have expiry dates on them,” Uber and Lyft driver Earla Phillips said.
“Are they installed properly? It takes up a seat … There’s a time factor and investment that people aren’t really willing to make.”
She said that can sometimes lead to uncomfortable encounters when they arrive to pick up a parent with a small child who has not brought their own car seat.
“We have to cancel on them,” Phillips said.
“They get angry, we’re frustrated because we’ve just wasted…time and money to come and get them. I’ve even been reported for destination discrimination because a woman was unhappy.”
Phillips finds herself just as concerned about the alternative. She said some drivers will still pick those customers up and drive them without a proper car seat, setting a dangerous precedent.
“They’re risking people’s lives. They’re risking a child’s life.”
In some areas of the world the service does offer an option called UberFamily, which allows parents to call for a ride with a car seat already set up in the back, but that option is not yet available in Canada.
“We’re always looking at that,” Uber Canada’s new General Manager Rob Khazzam said.
But while it’s not in the company’s immediate plans, he’s not ruling it out either.
“Most of the features we introduced in 2017 came from feedback from our riders and drivers.”
Until that day, Phillips said parents can save everyone involved a lot of headaches by letting their responding driver know the need for a car seat before they show up or at least bringing their own.