LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — Uber and Lyft don’t advertise themselves as a service for kids.
In fact, both have written in their terms of service that unaccompanied minors cannot ride, and this is for safety reasons.
However, in our 2 On Your Side investigation, reporter Kristine Lazar found that children have no problem hailing a ride alone.
“They’re 15 and 14. Is that OK?” Lazar asked a ride-hailing service driver.
“Yeah, that’s OK, as long as you give us permission,” the driver responded.
Permission or not, in their terms of service, Uber and Lyft state that drivers cannot take unaccompanied minors.
The California Public Utilities Commission says if ride-hailing companies primarily transport minors, they must fingerprint their drivers. In other instances, Uber and Lyft have fought against doing this.
They did agree to not transport minors alone, yet out of the 10 rides CBS2 hailed, only one said no. The rest agreed, no questions asked.
CBS2 didn’t let the kids take off with the drivers. Instead Lazar told drivers plans changed, and she took the ride herself. Once inside the cars, drivers said they take kids all the time.
One driver said he picked up kids as young as nine and 10. Another said he has regular customers whose parents use Uber to take their underage children to and from school. However, those drivers also said they felt compelled by their pay structure to carry through on the ride. That’s because drivers can lose bonuses and even risk deactivation if they cancel on too many trips.
“So if you see it’s a minor and you cancel on them, you’re not compensated at all?” Lazar asked Uber driver Sam Avoyan. “No,” Avoyan replied.
Avoyan added that many drivers aren’t aware that they aren’t allowed to pick up kids.
“We never had a sit-down face-to-face with anyone at Uber,” said Avoyan. “And so, that being said, they don’t have a program that tells you, ‘This is what you can do. This is what you can’t do.'”
Avoyan said many parents aren’t aware, either. In their terms of service, Uber and Lyft state that riders must be 18 to sign up or ride alone, but you don’t have to read those terms before you sign up.
One teen told Lazar some of his friends have their own accounts. They simply lie about their birth date when signing up.
“Have you ever had a driver ask you how old you are or ask to see an ID or tell you that you can’t ride because you’re not 18?” asked Lazar.
The boy answered, “Never.”
Both Uber and Lyft refused CBS2’s request for an on-camera interview.
In statements, both companies said drivers are encouraged to ask to see an ID if they think a rider is underage, and that any drivers who take unaccompanied minors can be deactivated. They also said they will also deactivate the rider’s account.