Teen Use of Uber

Uber is enforcing their rule regarding riders under 18.
Uber is enforcing their rule regarding riders under 18.
Camille Kuwana

The time has come for Uber to finally enforce their policies, or change them all together. Uber is having difficulty keeping minors for violating their underage rider policy. The current policy states that a minor can only ride in an Uber if there is someone 18 years old or older accompanying the minor on any ride. Uber set this policy to ensure safety with their service.

The policy states that a person has to be at least 18 years old to even have an Uber account. However, the sign-up for Uber is too simple; it does not even require the user to put in their birthday. By clicking the terms and conditions checkbox, which most people do not even glance at, the user is promising that they are not a minor. Most children, when activating their account, are not even aware that they made this promise.

The policy restricting minors has little effect on teens using Uber. With Uber being so easy and convenient for teens to use, and with parents having such busy schedules, it is difficult for many parents to justify not using the app. Many families are also unaware of the policy, being that it is in the fine print. Uber is so easy for teens to use because there is no cash involved, not even with the tip and the user can request or cancel a ride on their phone, which a majority of teens have access to.

However, it is not only the rider to blame for minors using the service; it is also the driver’s fault. In Uber’s policy, it says that drivers should decline requests from minors, but they are unable to know if a rider is a minor if all the accounts on Uber are supposedly people who promised they are over 18. Uber also includes in the policy that if a driver suspects a rider is a minor when they are picking the rider up, they can ask for identification and decline the ride. Many teens who are as young as 14 years old, could pass for 18. Uber drivers will most likely not ask for identification if a rider looks close to 18 years old to avoid conflict. Also, Uber drivers often do not want to decline a ride after they have already used gas and time to go to the pickup spot. Additionally, Uber drivers want to earn money and they definitely do not want to waste any on a useless trip.

Many teens use uber to get home from parties after they have been drinking. It is a much easier option than having a designated driver or calling a parent. Most importantly, with car crashes being the #1 cause of death in teens, taking an Uber is a much safer option than driving while under the influence. Another use of Uber is that parents often are too busy to give their children a ride to their kid’s several activities, so the easiest thing to do is to call an Uber for their child. This way, parents can see the times of when their child is picked up and dropped off. Also, parents can see where the car is at all times while their child is in the car.

However, there have been several cases with women and children where there has been sexual misconduct and abuse. Most reports about the assaults come out to the public months after they actually occur. This could be because Uber may be trying to cover them up.

According to a CNN investigation, a former Uber driver named John David Sanchez was sentenced to 80 years in prison for nine cases of rape of Uber passengers.

In this investigation, an anonymous woman was picked up by a Uber from a bar and she became unconscious in the car because she had been drinking. When she awoke the next morning her pants had been ripped from her.

In a different case, Tyson Fairley was charged with rape, sodomy and first-degree sexual abuse when he posed as an Uber driver. Fairley offered free rides to two women after picking them up from a bar.

Children, who are much less able to protect themselves, are at a greater risk for sexual assault than adult women. This is why Uber has the age restricting policy in the first place, but no one seems to be following it. Uber needs to do something, whether it be to adjust or enforce the policy. If Uber chooses to adjust their policy to lower the restricting age, they need to ensure safety to their passengers by doing more background checks and extensive research on their drivers. On the other hand, if Uber decides to keep their policies and enforce them, teens and parents will have to find other ways to get around with Uber.

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About the Contributor
Evelyn Lowen, Reporter
Evelyn Lowen is a senior reporter in her third year on The Sentry. She enjoys writing for all sections, particularly the Style section. Evelyn plays travel soccer outside of school and spends her free time hanging out with friends as well as her cat and dog.

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