No car seat? ‘No problem'

Uber and Lyft drivers break AZ car seat law

ABC15 investigator Dave Biscobing went undercover with a mom and her infant daughter to test if drivers for rideshare companies Uber and Lyft are willing to drive the baby without a car seat.

The trio hailed a total of four different rides, two from each ridesharing service, on a weekday afternoon.

The test produces some troubling results.

DRIVER SPEAKS OUT

In Arizona, state law requires children younger than 8 years old or less than 4 feet 9 inches tall to sit in a proper child safety seat. The purpose of this investigation was to see whether drivers for Uber and Lyft are breaking that law after a rideshare driver contacted the station to raise the concern.

Robert Burgess, who drives for both Uber and Lyft, sees it all the time.

This is a problem where both drivers and their parent passengers are to blame

He captured video on his dashboard camera of an incident at Sky Harbor Airport in October.

The video shows a Lyft driver picking up a woman and baby. As the driver takes the child's stroller and gets ready to put in the trunk, Burgess and an airport traffic coordinator approach the driver.

Burgess said the two are telling him he can't give a ride to the woman and child without a car seat. But the driver takes off anyway.

The video highlights that this is a problem where both drivers and their parent passengers are to blame.

Burgess said the vast majority of parents with small children he goes to pick up, "nine times out of ten," don't have the proper equipment.

When he turns them away, they often complain.

"'All of the other drivers do it' is a common statement," he said.

THE TEST

The four rides – two with Uber and two with Lyft – were ordered in a roughly 30-minute period. The rides were also all ordered for the same pick-up location.

Adrian Sanchez and her 10-month-old daughter Amelia joined Biscobing in the undercover test.

Three of the four drivers tested were willing to drive an unrestrained baby in violation of Arizona law

In each ride, Sanchez and Amelia got in first. As Biscobing entered the cars, he asked each driver specifically if it was OK that the mother and baby didn't have a car seat.

Each of the rides were cancelled before any driving began. The drivers were then informed that they part of a news investigation.

The results showed that three of the four drivers tested were willing to drive an unrestrained baby in violation of Arizona law. It also shows there are few mechanisms in place to prevent and identify drivers and passengers who break the law.

But, most importantly, it puts the child in danger.

RIDES

The first ride was with a male Lyft driver.

When asked if it was a problem not having a car seat, the driver replied with "That's fine. I'll drive careful."

The driver admits that he sees these situations a lot.

"These people are trying to go work and they can't house their car seat at their work or school. So what are we supposed to do?" he said.

The second ride was with a female Uber driver.

She expressed concern about the lack of a car seat right as the trio entered her car.

After admitting that she did not know the child seat laws, the trio informed her that it is required.

"Yeah, I'm liable. Then, it's a concern. I will wait. Will you go get one?" she said.

The woman driver from Uber is the only one of the four drivers who raised any issues about the lack of a car seat. Her lack of knowledge about specific laws regarding car seats was seen with all of the drivers.

"Yeah, that's no problem. Just hang on to (the baby) tight"

The third ride was with another male Lyft driver.

When asked if it was okay to not have a child seat, the driver replied, saying, "If that's OK with you guys."

The driver began to pull away. After he was quickly told to stop and informed of what was happening, Biscobing asked him if he's received any information from his company about car seat laws.

"No, of course not."

The fourth ride was with another male Uber driver.

As with the previous drivers, this driver was asked if it was okay that they did not have a child car restraint.

"Yeah, that's no problem. Just hang on to (the baby) tight," he said.

UBER/LYFT RESPONSES

ABC15 reached out to Uber and Lyft separately for comment and to ask about the companies' policies and procedures for small children and car seats.

"Drivers and riders who violate these guidelines risk losing access to Uber"

An Uber spokesman sent the following statement, "Uber's community guidelines lay out our expectation that drivers using the Uber app follow all relevant state, federal, and local laws and the rules of the road at all times. Drivers and riders who violate these guidelines risk losing access to Uber."

The spokesman also said that Uber drivers who find themselves in a similar situation should cancel the ride. The company is also starting a pilot program with a car seat option in some cities.

Lyft sent ABC15 the following statement, "it is Lyft's policy that passengers are welcome to bring children in the car provided they have the proper car seats that fit legal requirements in their state and city. Safety is our top priority and young children should not be traveling in any vehicle - a taxi, rideshare service, or personal car - without the proper safety equipment. Drivers should know that they have our full support declining a ride for passengers who do not follow Lyft's safety policies, and their decision to do so will not impact their rating," the statement continued."

Lyft went a step further, by asking anyone with concerns about an incident, to contact their Critical Reponse Line.