Car seats and taxis: here’s what you NEED to know (2020)

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Even if you’re planning a car-free vacation for your family, there’s a decent chance you’ll need to take a taxi at some point. So you’re probably wondering: what’s the deal with car seats and taxis?

In this article we’ll cover everything you need to know about taking a car seat in a taxi. You’ll find out:

  • Why you should take a car seat in a taxi
  • What’s the best car seat for taxi rides?
  • How to arrange a cab with a car seat

Why you should take a car seat in a taxi

In most places in the US, taxis are exempt from car seat laws. But there’s no magical protective bubble around taxis – even in NYC, there are critical or fatal accidents every month.

Many parents who live in or visit big cities don’t give a lot of thought to their option or to the potential dangers of taking kids in a cab without a car seat. What are some common unsafe mistakes?

  • When taking a taxi with an infant, parents strap the baby into a carrier
  • When taking a taxi with a toddler, parents put the baby on their lap and “double belt”, running the seatbelt around both of them
  • When taking a taxi with preschool or elementary school kids, parents let them use the regular seatbelt without a booster seat

None of those is a safe option. The consequences can be dire and could potentially range from serious injury or death. Babies can be crushed by their parents or slammed against the seat in front, kids who are too young for seatbelts can suffer from “seat belt syndrome” that damages their internal organs and spines.

In some European countries, children are required to use a car seat in a taxi (sometimes it depends on the distance of the trip). You may even get lucky and encounter taxis that carry car seats with them! If available, they can be arranged via the taxi company apps. I recommend doing research before you go. Search for “[city or country] taxi app” and download it to look at the options before your trip.

What’s the best car seat for taxi rides?

Bubblebum is the best travel booster seat because it gives a great, consistent belt fit in nearly every car

Fortunately there are plenty of awesome lightweight car seats for travel and even folding car seats that are easy to bring with you for flights or a day in the city. If you are riding in a taxi with a baby, it’s hard to beat the Doona infant car seat as the perfect baby seat for a taxi!

Taxi drivers can get impatient with parents installing their car seats. One trick is to leave the car door open until you’re done installing the car seat and buckling your child in. You can be pretty sure no one is going to drive off until all of the doors are closed!

Make sure you have practiced multiple ways to install your car seat. While LATCH might be most convenient, sometimes it’s not available in every seating position (or at all in some countries). Get comfortable installing your car seat with a seatbelt as well, just in case. If you’re leaving the US you may encounter seatbelts that don’t lock when you pull them all the way out, so bring a locking clip and learn how to use it (read more about seatbelt locking clips).

If you have multiple kids in car seats and the driver’s seat is all the way back, don’t be sheepish about asking him to slide forward if possible. Whether you’re installing a car seat or not, everyone deserves leg room!

What’s the best portable car seat for a taxi?

Especially for families with older kids, the Ride Safer travel vest and Bubblebum are lightweight and easy to throw in a day backpack! There’s no reason not to bring one of those with you to have for spur-of-the-moment rides.

How to arrange a cab with a car seat

Ok, so what if you really don’t want to bring a car seat with you? You do have a few options.

Uber Car Seat: If you’ll be in New York City, Washington DC, Philadelphia or Orlando you may be able to order a car with a forward-facing car seat! These are really meant for kids who are 2+ years old (particularly in New York and Pennsylvania, which mandate rear-facing until 2).

Welcome Pickups: Welcome Pickups is a world-wide car service that will provide age-appropriate car seats upon request. They offer service on every continent except Antarctica!

Local taxi companies and car services: There are lots of great independent car services and local taxi companies around the world that offer car services. For example, G7 in Paris and Shebah in Australia.

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