GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — With school in full swing and families on busy schedules, some parents are turning to an unusual mode of transportation to get their kids to school. However, this mode of transportation's policy doesn't exactly allow for what parents are doing.
Some parents are actually calling Uber cars to pick up their kids for school, but one Uber driver said it's against the company's policy and is a liability for the driver.
The driver agreed to talk to FOX 17, but did not want to be identified by name.
"I saw it increase more and more, where you are picking up kids, two or three, sometimes four times a week and dropping them off at school," said the anonymous Uber driver.
He said parents are using their own accounts to order Ubers for their kids, but the driver doesn't always know it's a child under 18 until they drop them of at a Junior High school or High school. Passengers are not required to show their ID when they enter the car, and the driver doesn't always know the destination address is actually a school.
"Well, some of these kids are 14, 15, or 16 years-old and they look like they are 20 years old," said the Uber Driver.
Parents we talked to have differing opinions on the subject. Deneen and Brian Huff have a 22-year-old son and they still don't like the idea of him taking an Uber. They said if the service was available when he was 17-years-old, they would never let him take one, even if they were in a pinch.
"Absolutely not, because I don't know the qualifications. I don't know their licensing. I don't know how strict the program is," said Huff.
However, Paul Moore, a regular rider of Uber thinks different. His morning routine consists of taking three children to three different schools in the morning. Although he's never done it, he is not against the idea of parents sending their kids off in an Uber to school in a pinch.
"Definitely. Most people don't realize that Uber is one of the safer ways to drive because the driver is on file at Uber," said Moore.
That decision is largely based on peoples' comfort levels with the service, but the fact remains, you have to be 18-years-old to ride in an Uber in the first place. Even though it's against Uber's policy, this concerned Uber driver said it's happening quite often, so he contacted Uber about the problem at least three times.
Uber told FOX 17 news that drivers have the right to deny rides to young passengers.
"It puts liability on the driver. I feel it puts us in a sticky situation where if something happens, do you stop mid-trip and let them out, or do you take them back to where they are at? And if you let them out, and something happens to them, then you are responsible for their safety," said the Uber driver.
Uber said insurance will still cover any passengers and the diver in case of an accident, but this Uber driver still isn't taking it lightly.
"It's a big safety issue for the kids and I think it's a safety issue for the drivers as well. It's one accusation away from a lawsuit, not only against the driver, but Uber."
The Uber driver said the driving rating system makes it hard for drivers to make the correct decision as well. He said a lot of them are afraid if they do kick the kid out or bring him or her back, then they will get a bad rating, and so many bad ratings can get you kicked out. Uber said they check with the driver after complaints, and if that was the case, the rating wouldn't count against them.
According to this Uber driver, the rates have gone down significantly as Uber tries to compete with the taxi companies. He said this makes it hard for Uber drivers to turn down rides even if they suspect the rider is under 18-years-old.