There are wide variations between states when it comes to child restraint rules for ride-share services such as Lyft and Uber, researchers report.
This can cause uncertainty and confusion for parents and other caregivers. Ride-share vehicles typically don’t come with a car seat, and an option to request one is available only in some cities, the study authors said.
Parents can provide their own car seat, but many are bulky, heavy and require a separate base, posing challenges during vacations or extended travel, according to the researchers.
The investigators found that 34 states exempt taxis and for-hire vehicles from child restraint requirements, but it’s often unclear if these exemptions also apply to ride-share vehicles.
Currently, Georgia is the only state that distinguishes between ride-sharing and other for-hire vehicles. In that state, for-hire vehicles are exempt but ride-share drivers are required to provide car seats if needed, the findings showed.
The researchers also surveyed parents and found that more than one-third use ride-share services with their children, and up to half reported not providing appropriate child safety seats while riding in a ride-share vehicle with their families.
Overall, parents were interested in using child safety seats in ride-shares, but often felt stymied by the lack of car seat options and uncertainty about the rules.
Focus groups with ride-share drivers found that of the three-quarters who’d given rides to young children, only half recalled using a car seat.
“These findings suggest that parents would like to be able to transport their children more safely when using ride-share vehicles, but there is a real need for user-friendly information about rules, regulations and resources surrounding travel with children,” said the study’s principal investigator Justin Owens. He is a research scientist at Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, in Blacksburg, Va.
“For that reason, we have created a website (www.kidsridesafe.org) that aims to provide caregivers and ride-share drivers with this information in an easy-to-access manner,” Owens added in a university news release.
For more on the value of car seats for children, visit the American Academy of Pediatrics.