Only about half of parents who travel with ride-share services like Lyft and Uber use child safety or booster seats, according to the findings of a new study, which also raises questions about liability exposure vehicle drivers may face if involved in an accident.
In findings published last week in the medical journal Academic Pediatrics, researchers indicate that among parents of children under eight years old who used a ride-sharing service, 40% reported they only used the car seatbelt and another 10% indicated they allowed their child to travel on their lap or completely unrestrained.
Researchers with Children’s Hospital in Chicago conducted a cross-sectional survey to assess ride-share and passenger safety behaviors. After screening, adult parents of minor children were invited to complete the full survey about transportation behaviors.
A total of 655 parents were screened, and 450 with children fully completed the surveys.
Overall, nearly 73% of parents screened said they used ride-share services, such as Uber and Lyft, with their children in the past year. Ride-share with their children was most commonly done while on vacation, but only 49% reported they always used child restraint systems, such as car seats or booster seats, when traveling.
Although state and federal laws consistently require young children to be secured in an appropriate safety seat, fewer parents used the car seats for their children when using Lyft, Uber or another ride-sharing service, compared to when they typically travel with a child.
Even parents who always use car seat and booster seats when traveling in their own vehicles at home, frequently admitted they did not use car seats while traveling in ride-share vehicles.
While laws vary by state, most states require the driver of a vehicle provide child restraint systems and ensure children are properly secured. Some states hold both parents and ride-share operators accountable for failing to use car seats.
Researchers warn the findings highlight the need for improved education for both parents and ride-share operators regarding the use and laws pertaining to car seats and booster seats.
“This study identifies an opportunity to promote use of child restraint systems (CRS) in ride-share services,” the researchers wrote. “Child passenger safety messaging, education, policy, enforcement of legislation, and CRS design will need to be adapted as ride-share services become more widely adopted.”