BROOKSVILLE, Fla. (WFLA) — Ride-hailing apps like Uber and Lyft have revolutionized how we get around, and now parents are trying to use them to get their kids to school.
After several encounters with kids trying to Uber to school, one Brooksville Uber driver wants to remind parents that it’s against the app’s terms of service to let those under 18 ride without an adult.
Peter Dodge started driving for Uber in April as a way to make some extra cash. The 53-year-old quickly noticed kids would use the app to try and summon rides, as well as parents requesting rides for their children.
Just last week, Dodge had to cancel a ride because when he showed up, two young girls were trying to Uber to a local middle school.
“I tried to explain to the father that either he would have to ride with them, and he’d have to do a return trip, or I couldn’t take them,” Dodge said.
Uber drivers are obligated to decline and report unauthorized use and the company keeps track of under-aged rider reports. However, when 8 On Your Side reached out to inquire if they’ve seen a rising trend of under-aged use, Uber declined to comment.
Dodge respects the company’s rules but also understands the appeal to parents, who may lack reliable transportation to get their kids to and from school.
“Parents are working, they don’t have much of an option,” Dodge said. “We see it on the news all the time, somebody is getting hit, so parents are worried about the safety of their kids.”
Florida students typically don’t have access to a school bus if they live within two miles of their school, a law that Hillsborough County Schools announced Wednesday the district is challenging.
Ride apps designed with kids in mind exist, like HopSkipDrive, but have yet to launch in the Tampa Bay area.
If the rules change, Dodge feels Uber or Lyft could be a trusted way to get kids to school. In the meantime, however, he plans to drive by the books.
“I ask if they have ID,” Dodge said, when picking up riders who appear young. “It’s about all you can do.”
Adults who get caught requesting Ubers for kids to ride alone risk having their account suspended.