Ride-sharing company Uber has launched a new service for teens in several major cities, and “Good Morning America” featured an exclusive look at one family that was testing the service.
Ruth Stern is a mother of two and like many parents, she usually has to figure out the different transportation needs each family member has for their busy schedule.
“One kid needs to be picked up from school,” Stern told ABC News consumer reporter Becky Worley. “Another kid needs to go to an activity. There’s a doctor’s appointment she wasn’t expecting, so it’s a constant juggling.”
So when the opportunity presented itself recently, Stern decided to try out the Uber pilot program for teens.
“I can’t be in two places at once and I can get my child home safely from somewhere and be with my other child,” Stern said.
Stern used the pilot program from Uber to get a ride for her 15-year-old daughter Izzy while she herself went to drop her 10-year-old son to one of his activities.
Stern and her family have so far been part of the pilot program for a few months.
Now, the ride-sharing company is officially launching the program to a broader customer base, allowing parents and guardians to add teen riders to their Uber accounts under a family profile. Teenagers between the ages of 13 and 17 are included in the programme.
Sachin Kansal, Uber’s vice president of product management, told GMA that the process starts with a parent’s phone.
“You open your Uber app, go to the ‘Account’ tab at the bottom. Now with this new feature you can add a teen,” Kansal explained.
More: Uber launches ride booking feature on the app in the UK
To develop this new feature, Uber has partnered with the nonprofit organization Safe Kids Worldwide to address safety concerns related to the service.
“There are some non-negotiables while rolling out this platform to make sure kids buckle up every time,” said Turin Kreipe, President, Safe Kids Worldwide.
For parents and guardians, the thought of putting a child in a car with a stranger can still be daunting.
“I was nervous. Will the car show up? Will it be the person you feel safe with?” Remember Stern Thinking.
Stern’s daughter Izzy said she also felt nervous the first time she took an Uber by herself.
“As a girl, it’s scary. And sometimes, you don’t know what’s going to happen but I felt really comfortable just getting in,” Izzy said.
More: How to keep your teen safe behind the wheel amid ‘100 deadliest days’
Uber said it has safety measures in place for teen riders, including background checks on drivers. The company said it only picks frequent drivers with high ratings to serve teens and drivers are required to request a PIN at the start of a trip to make sure teens get into the correct Uber vehicle.
Parents can also track their teen’s trip in real time and call an Uber driver at any time. Families can also choose to sign up for an audio coded recording of the entire ride with a teen rider. If anything happens, Uber said it can access that audio recording to determine what’s going on.
With previous news stories highlighting the potential risks of an Uber trip going wrong, Kansal said the company is committed to rider safety.
“I think it’s a high standard and we take the safety of every step very seriously. This is something I always ask myself and my team about. Are we ready to meet that threshold of a parent who is going to take care of their child’s safety?” Kansal said.
Uber for youth is launching in 28 metropolitan areas across the United States and Canada.
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