Killeen: Uber, Lyft drivers reject rides for minors

KILLEEN, Texas (KWTX) How young is too young for a child to catch an Uber or Lyft ride alone?

A New Orleans mother was arrested and charged with child desertion for putting her 5-year-old in a rideshare vehicle alone, and now parents are talking about what's okay when it comes to ridesharing for kids.

Local Uber and Lyft drivers tell News 10 that they get regular requests from nearby schools.

"During the day when school lets out, I guarantee you people are telling Uber or Lyft to pick up their kids," says Pete who drives for both services.

"Some of the drivers may not report it because that's their income," he adds.

He says he's even had to call a mom at three in the morning when her thirteen year old requested a ride.

"Her mother was angry with me because she was going to have to get her clothes on and miss her TV show to come get her daughter," says Pete.

Both Uber and Lyft prohibit unaccompanied riders under 18. They are the rules everyone agrees to when opening an account.

Drivers like Erica Williams avoid working school hours since she says teens often request rides for off-campus lunches.

"They're able to just set up an account, and nothing is verified to make sure they are over the age of 18."

She believes drivers can open themselves up to lawsuits if something goes wrong and wants to see an identification requirement added to the apps.

"I would absolutely hold that driver accountable and go after them for picking them up because it is in the terms of service," says the mother of three.

Parents are sounding off saying sometimes the service is necessary and rideshares are safer than other kids driving.

“What’s worse,” asks Stephanie Gabler on an online post.

“-distracted teen buddies with four loud teen kids in their car... or a responsible, safe driving rideshare?”

Megan Hill also chimes in on the post.

“It’s safer to have a sober driver pick them up than walk somewhere,” she says.

But local Lyft and Uber drivers want parents to remember that even with a driver’s background check, kids are still in the hands of strangers.

"That's not to say that they're not going to do something or just haven't gotten caught yet," says Williams.

Drivers are encouraged to check ID's and report rides requested for minors.

The ride-share services may shut those accounts down.

Also, the rideshare companies recommend checking ride history in accounts to make sure kids aren't using parents' accounts on their own.

As for the schools where local drivers say they get requested, Killeen Independent School District representatives say school policies only control who signs a student out early. Afterschool, they're not involved in how kids get home.