When you’re towing a kid in a new city without a car, it can be tempting to strap them in an Uber – sans car seat – “just this one time.” But is doing so actually legal?
Hidden cameras have discovered that drivers have been letting passengers do so. (“If you’re all right with it, I’m okay with it,” one driver said to an undercover mum.)
But the laws of physics don't change when you're on a holiday. Car seats save lives (and in most places, are required by law), whether you're cruising around your neighbourhood or in a town on the other side of the world.
For example, here's the official advice from the VicRoads government website:
It is the law that all children travelling in a motor vehicle who are under 7 years of age, be restrained in a suitable restraint that is properly adjusted and fastened. A rideshare vehicle is just like any other private car and requires child restraints to be installed to transport children under 7.
In other words, you're going to need a child seat if you want to travel with your kid in an Uber.
Does Uber have a child seat service?
In some countries, Uber provides a service called Uber Car Seat or uberFAMILY. These are uberX vehicles that come equipped with a car seat for a $US10 surcharge. Unfortunately, this service is not currently offered on the Australian version of the app.
To legally ride in an Uber with your child, you will therefore need to supply your own Australian Standards Association approved car seat. Even then, the rider may decide to refuse the fare due to the extra time and effort required. (Uber drivers are independent contractors and there doesn't appear to be any set policy about child car seats.)
This is one scenario where the traditional taxi definitely trumps Uber and other ride sharing services. In most states and territories, it is legal for children over the age of one to wear a seatbelt while travelling in a taxi - you don't even need a booster seat.
If you'd prefer not to risk the safety of your child, most taxi services offer child seat-equipped vehicles. Simply request one when you ring up to order the taxi.