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In the decade since its founding, Uber has revolutionized the transportation world. City dwellers no longer need to stand out in the rain to hail a taxi. Young urbanites are turning to a car-free lifestyle with ridesharing as a viable commute options. And world travelers (like you) don’t have to worry about language barriers and “broken” meters. With nearly a million drivers in the US and another 2 million in other countries, Uber is taking the world by storm.
But what’s the deal with Uber and car seats? Sure, Uber (and Lyft, Grab and others) are convenient for unplanned rides for adults but life gets trickier when kids are involved. In this article we’ll address some critical questions for parents who want to use Uber with kids:
- Can Uber take kids? Is Uber kid friendly?
- Can you ride Uber without a car seat? Where is Uber exempt from car seats regulations? Or do I need a child a child seat in Uber at my destination?
- Am I allowed to install a car seat in an Uber? What’s the best car seat for Uber?
- Where is Uber Family/Uber Car Seat available? Is my child eligible? Where is the car seat option on Uber? How can I request a carseat on Uber?
Can Uber take kids?
Absolutely! We’ve found Uber to be very kid-friendly and have used it in many countries. We generally find the drivers to be more patient than regular taxi drivers, probably because they know they’ll be receiving a review from us after the ride.
I think Uber is especially kid-friendly because you can specify the (rough) size of car that meets your needs. If you only have one child or your kids are old enough to use these or these, a regular UberX will suffice. Got a bunch of kids in car seats and lots of luggage? It’s easy to call for an UberXL to make sure everyone fits comfortably!
We’ve never had an issue taking our kids in Ubers and find them much more family-friendly than taxis.
Does Uber require car seats?
Technically Uber doesn’t require kids to be in car seats; however, they do require drivers to comply with local laws. And an Uber driver can refuse to take your family if you don’t have a safe way to restrain your child (since it impacts the driver’s liability and safety). Yes, I know of families left standing on the curb because they didn’t have a car seat and the driver was within his rights to refuse to drive them.
Before you travel anywhere with a car seat age child, make sure to search online for the destination and “Uber car seat laws”, but sometimes even that isn’t straightforward. Some states and cities treat Uber like a taxi (often shockingly exempt from passenger safety rules) while others treat Uber like a private car (subject to the same rules as in your own car). And sometimes local laws haven’t yet addressed ride sharing services! Here’s a helpful breakdown of Uber laws by state, though it’s only as clear as the local laws.
Regardless of Uber’s rules or local laws, the laws of physics don’t change when you hail a ride through the app. Even if it’s a short ride, it’s important to put your kid in a car seat of some sort to keep them safe. Accidents can still happen in an Uber.
Bringing your own car seat for Uber
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 Uber with a baby, it’s hard to beat the Doona for hopping in and out of Uber!
We’ve found Uber drivers to be much more patient about car seat installation than traditional taxi drivers, probably because they know we’ll be rating them after the trip. Still, they may not know what car seat installation entails. 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!
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!
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).
Uber Family & Uber Car Seat services – important details
Over the last few years, Uber has rolled out the much-needed Uber Family/Uber Car Seat service in a few major cities in the US. You can also arrange the nearly-identical Lyft car seat mode in New York City. For cities outside of Uber/Lyft car seat areas, Welcome Pickups can generally provide a car seat on request (including cities in Europe, Asia, South America and even parts of the US).
What is Uber car seat?
UberX Car Seat (also called Uber Family) provides a forward-facing car seat appropriate for ages 2 and up. The driver installs it, and you strap your kid in. Off you go!
The official Uber Car Seat program provides an IMMI Go car seat, fits kids 31-52″ and 22-48 pounds. If your child is too small, you’ll need to bring an infant car seat or one of these smaller travel car seats. Once your child outgrows the IMMI Go, she should fit well in a travel booster seat.
Each driver has only one seat available, and not every driver has a car seat. So you may find the wait for an Uber with a car seat to be very long; if that happens, it’s worth exploring your public transportation options.
Where is UberX Car Seat available?
Officially, just New York City as of this writing. Washington DC, Philadelphia and Orlando used to be on that list as well. But the confusing part is that in some of those cities you can still book a car with a car seat and car seats are still listed as an option for those city’s informational pages (but not on the Uber Car Seat page). So YMMV. Before visiting a major city in the US, it’s worth opening your app and setting up a fake ride to see if the car seat option pops up – it may be pretty far down the list of car options!
Here are the Uber Car Seat options you can find when you dig around the website (click “More” in the list of ride types):
- New York: Uber Car Seat
- Washington DC: UberX Car Seat, Uber Black Car Seat, Uber Black SUV Car Seat
- Philadelphia: Uber Black Car Seat, Uber Black SUV Car Seat
- Orlando: UberX Car Seat, Uber XL Car Seat, Uber Black Car Seat, Uber Black SUV Car Seat
We’ve also heard reports that in the “unofficial” cities that there’s more variation in the car seats offered. Leaked screenshots from Uber’s info for drivers indicates that the seats have to be at least 6 months from expiration, never have been in an accident and chosen from an approved list (mostly Graco, Britax, Chicco, Maxi Cosi and other high end brands; no Cosco allowed).
Check Welcome Pickups for rides with a car seat in other cities.
How much does Uber Family/Uber Car seat cost?
There’s a $10 surcharge for a car seat on top of your regular fare. As you can see above, in some cities only the premium cars offer car seats. In those cases, the cost can really add up and it might be better to take public transportation or rent a car.
What does Uber do to make sure the car seats are safe?
When Uber first rolled out their Uber Family program, they ran a very tight ship. The program was created in partnership with a local expert, who oversaw training to make sure that drivers knew how to install their seats, ensured that seats were replaced after an accident and more.
That partnership no longer exists, but in New York City many of the features are still in place. In the other cities, drivers only need to submit a photo of the car seat (to prove that it’s an approved option) and a photo of the sticker (to prove that it has at least 6 months until expiration) and attest that it has never been in an accident.
Uber can be a great choice for traveling families, whether you need a ride from the airport or a dash around the city. If there are any questions you still have about Uber and car seats, leave them in the comments below!
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