The Great Car Seat Debate
As a member of several Facebook groups, ride share forums, and meetup/networking platforms for drivers; the topic of children's car seats - or more specifically the lack of - and passengers is raised on a regular basis by my fellow ride share providers.
On one side of the conversation, the point of view seems to be that various platforms such as Lyft and Uber should make it mandatory for passengers to provide car seats when such a consideration is necessary.
I did a little digging in the Help section of both platforms and their policies, as it pertains to car seats and passengers, are as follows:
"We expect riders and drivers to follow local rules and regulations regarding infants and small children. Riders are welcome to bring a car seat with them to install and use in the Uber. However, if you do not feel comfortable transporting children, with or without a car seat, it is up to you whether to accept the ride."
"Children are welcome to join you in a ride but aren't permitted to ride alone in a Lyft vehicle. We're happy to give kids a ride as well as adults as long as your children have the proper car seats that fit legal requirements in your state and city. Plan on providing your own car seat for children that require one."
Basically, as outlined above, I interpret this to mean...
Uber encourages parents/guardians to provide their own car seats when necessary but doesn't enforce that encouragement; thereby ultimately leaving the decision as to whether or not a driver accepts a ride request without one up to that individual ride share provider.
Whereas - Lyft appears to be more adamant with their policy and politely "tells" passengers their ride request will [and should] not be honored by the driver until compliant child safety equipment is provided by the passenger.
Both policies put a ride share driver in the position of telling a potential fare "NO", which is a situation customers typically don't respond well to.
Between the two policies, I like Lyft's better as it provides a driver with firm grounds to cite the reasoning behind that "NO" as adherence to corporate requirements and potentially make that "NO" more acceptable to the passenger.
It would be nice to be able to say "YES" to every customer - in all situations, but we don't live in a perfect world.
An opposing point of view in these discussions is the suggestion that a driver who provides child safety equipment for passenger use could enhance the customer experience while improving revenue from ride sharing in the form of increased tips and/or repeat business.
This solution, in my opinion, could be a double-edged sword as it has potentially negative ramifications.
As a ride share driver, you are considered an independent contractor (business owner) and as such, are liable for your own decisions and actions - both good and bad. Should you choose the path of providing an additional amenity, there are many other considerations involved in this decision outside of customer satisfaction and improved revenue.
If you choose to explore travel solutions such as SafeRide4Kids Harness Car Seat as an extra amenity for passengers, how will you present it to the client in such a manner that protects yourself and your business?
Will you create a "use at your own risk" policy? How would you execute it - written, electronically, verbally, or a combination of? What laws are applicable to executing the choosen format(s)? What are the pros and cons for each and how will it affect your operations? Are you financially and operationally secure enough to defend that decision in "worse case scenario"?
Or, will you just incorporate this aspect into your functionality as a ride share provider and promote the positive side of its presence as an added amenity; thereby absorbing any outcomes (again, good or bad) as "a part of doing business"?
I don't feel either point of view is necessarily "wrong" or "right". Simply different roads to the same destination of getting passengers to and from in a safe, conscientious manner.
Ultimately, it is up to YOU, the ride share provider, to determine what is best for YOUR business.