Uber recently unveiled several new features to make it easier for teens to access its ride-hailing service. A new teen accounts feature lets teens between the ages of 13-17 to hail rides and be in the car on their own. Their parents and guardians can also monitor them remotely through an app.
Previously, those under the age of 18 weren’t allowed to use Uber without being accompanied in the car by an adult.
Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi said the option will help families “manage the craziness” of juggling getting their kids around and stressed the company’s safety features to ensure that “parents can have peace of mind.”
The new accounts include a unique PIN number that teens will have to give to the Uber driver before embarking and in-app audio recording of the ride. A live trip-tracking feature also allows parents to follow the trips’ progress via the Uber app. in addition, parents can contact the driver directly during the trip as well as contact Uber’s support team. The CEO also noted that only experienced and highly-rated drivers will be eligible to complete trips with teens.
“Our approach here is to solve a problem that is unsolved, that is a massive pain point in our users’ lives, both the guardians as well as the teens,” Sachin Kansal, vice president for product at Uber, said.
How Do the Teen Accounts Work?
The Uber Teen accounts are controlled by a parent or guardian, as the adult account holder creates the account, receives notifications when a ride is requested, has the ability to monitor the teen’s ride in real time, and communicate with the driver.
The aim is to give parents and guardians peace of mind that their teenager is using Uber safely and responsibly.
“The guardian is in control of the account: they can remove the teen account, the payment profile can be removed, they have full visibility,” he said. “But at the same time, the teen has independence, so when they are in a situation [where] they need an Uber ride, they’re able to take that trip.”
Teens Have Been Skirting the Rideshare Company’s Age Restrictions
Research shows that teenagers have circumvented Uber’s age restrictions and have been using the service for years. Data from credit card companies in 2019 found that Uber and Lyft represented 94% of all taxi service transactions for customers aged 13 to 18. Anecdotes about teenagers using their parents’ Uber accounts or an older friend’s account are quite common. As a result, Uber drivers are frequently placed in the difficult position of refusing an underage rider or leaving them stranded.
But with the new feature, drivers have the option as to whether they want to accept underage riders. The customer will be identified as a teenager in the app when the request comes in, allowing for full transparency.
“They’re very excited about this because now it’s all transparent,” Kansal said of drivers. “The guardian has visibility, the teen has all these safety features, and you’re not violating Uber’s guidelines.”
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