Drivers for popular rideshare providers Uber and Lyft don’t believe the companies are doing enough to curb dangerous practices that put children at risk.
Specifically, the drivers are calling for both companies to hold accountable parents without car seats for their small children and unaccompanied minors.
“It’s getting out of hand, and I don’t know if it’s getting addressed,” said Barry Worman, a Valley driver for both rideshare companies.
Worman said he regularly gets calls to pick up parents without the proper car seats, which are required by law for children under 8 years old or less than 4 feet 9 inches tall.
He also estimates that nearly a third of his ordered rides are for unaccompanied minors – some who even have the apps in their own name. [Uber and Lyft policies require riders to be older than 18 to use the app or ride alone]
“I’ve had eight- or nine-year-old’s that I’ve gone to pick up at night,” Worman said.
Worman is one of dozens of drivers who contacted ABC15 after the station’s investigation in January.
ABC15 investigator Dave Biscobing went undercover with a mom and her infant daughter to test if drivers for both companies were willing to drive the baby without a car seat.
The test produced troubling results.
Angel Vigil saw ABC15’s investigation and felt compelled to reach out to talk about her experience driving for both companies for more than three years.
Vigil had more than 9,000 rides between the companies and said she regularly dealt with problems with car seats and unaccompanied minors.
Vigil showed ABC15 dozens of emails to the companies that document her complaints.
“It was the same song and dance. We won’t pair you with the rider, and we’ll take appropriate action,” she said.
“Whatever we’ll follow up appropriately means, I don’t know,” she said.
Vigil also showed ABC15 a disturbing dashcam video from her car of a rider pick-up in November. She said she drove up to a woman with a baby sitting on her hip, but no car seat.
When Vigil told the woman she couldn’t take her, the woman told her other drivers have taking her before getting angry.
“So you’re telling me I’m going to be f***ing charged because you’re a b****.”
Both Uber and Lyft sent ABC15 statements that say riders and drivers can lose their access to the rideshare services if they break the rules. [Statements below]
Neither company answered ABC15’s questions about what they’re doing to curb the problems. Uber did provide a screenshot from their app that shows drivers can report car seat issues and unaccompanied minors during the cancellations process.
But both companies didn’t provide any statistics requested by ABC15 to show how many riders have been suspended or terminated for breaking car seat laws or violating their unaccompanied minor policies.
The problem is drivers say they feel pressured to take all rides. Worman showed ABC15 a recent email from Uber that alerted him to his high cancellation rate.
“Cancellations happen occasionally. But recently, you’ve canceled a lot of trips after accepting them. When riders can’t depend on a ride. They are less likely to use Uber,” the email said.
Worman said every ride he canceled was an unaccompanied minor or parent without a car seat for their child. He said that’s why also he misses out on bonuses for Lyft, which incentivizes drivers to keep a ride acceptance rate about 90 percent.
That can be almost impossible he said if you’re not taking illegal or improper rides. Vigil agreed.
“Lyft is incentivizing riders to take rides and look the other way,” she said.
STATEMENT FROM RIDESHARE COMPANIES:
“Uber’s community guidelines clearly outline that children must be supervised while using Uber and only adults can have an Uber account. Drivers and riders who violate these guidelines risk losing access to Uber.”
"The safety of the Lyft community is our top priority, and we take this issue very seriously."