Uber driver describes uptick in ride requests for unaccompanied minors

NOW: Uber driver describes uptick in ride requests for unaccompanied minors

SOUTH BEND, Ind.-- One Elkhart woman, who drives for Uber, says parents are using the ride-share app to book their kids a trip to school. But she says it's against Uber's policy.

Jessica Stanley said most of her trips come from South Bend and Mishawaka. A lot of times, the rides are to bring students to and from schools.

Every time she sees a kid come out with a backpack on, Stanley said, she knows it’s another day of canceled rides, less profit, and frustrated parents, who often don’t have a better option.

“I will pull up to a house and I will see two children, and I need babies, coming out, fourth, fifth, maybe sixth grade, with backpacks on, no parent in sight,” Stanley said.

She said lately, she cancels 10 to 30 rides a week because she refuses to drive unaccompanied minors, who often need rides to school.

“I understand parents who work multiple jobs, single income, single-parent households, I get it," she said, "but the school corporations locally literally have to do something better about getting these kids to school, on time, and safer.”

Stanley shared Uber’s company policy with ABC57, which says drivers must cancel rides if they were intended for a child under 18 without another adult.

“These parents shouldn’t be relying on ride-share services to get their kids to and from school safely," she said. "That’s what school buses are for.”

Stanley is begging parents to learn the policy, but worries some don’t have a better option.

“I get it, there’s a school bus shortage, a driver shortage and play everything, but they’re not doing anything," she said. "They’re not curbing the violence, so I wouldn’t let my kid walk even if it was a half mile.”

ABC57 reached out to the South Bend Police Department, who gave us the following statement:

“Though ride-sharing services do perform their own background checks on drivers, it’s important to remember that sending an unaccompanied minor into an Uber or Lyft means putting your child into a car with a stranger. We encourage parents and caregivers to enlist the help of trusted friends and family members to provide transportation for their children if they are unable to themselves.”

The police say they have no indication this has been an issue, the same response ABC57 got from the South Bend Community School Corporation.

Stanley said many drivers will not enforce the unaccompanied minor policy.

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