Getting where you need to go is crucial, but when you’re traveling with your child, the top priority should always be safety. Most states have strict car seat laws for drivers, parents, and caregivers.
But do those same rules and regulations apply when you’re riding in the back of a Lyft?
If you’re a concerned parent who would never allow their child to ride in a vehicle without a car seat, you’re not alone. And Lyft recognizes the need for child safety and security as well.
Check out this Lyft car seat guide for everything you need to know about Lyft’s rules for riding with children.
What is Lyft’s Car Seat Policy?
Lyft provides rides to people of all ages – but unless you’re over the age of 17, you’re not allowed to ride alone. Any child under the age of 17 must have a parent, caregiver, or guardian with them during the ride.
For younger children, even more rules apply.
Lyft requires that parents and caregivers in all states restrain their children in the proper car seats or booster seats. You cannot expect Lyft to provide one for you, you have to bring your own.
Some parents may think it’s okay to take a short trip with a child without a car seat. Some drivers may be willing to turn a blind eye to this as well. But you should never, ever run the risk of traveling in a vehicle with a child that’s not properly secured.
Even if you’re taking a one-mile trip, you need a car seat. If the ride is only two minutes long, you still need a car seat.
You must make sure that your child is correctly secured in the required size and type of car seat as dictated by your state’s laws.
Does Lyft Provide Car Seats?
If you’re a parent or a caregiver in New York City, you’re in luck.
In NYC, Lyft provides car seats, so you don’t have to worry about carrying your own around the city. For an extra $10 fee, you can request a Lyft with a car seat that’s installed and ready for use.
The car seat that Lyft uses is the IMMI GO car seat. It’s portable, easy to install, and super lightweight at less than 10 pounds. It’s also easy to store in the trunk when there is no child in the car.
The IMMI GO is not heavy or cumbersome like other car seats, and it comes with a convenient carrying case. So if you plan to take taxi or Lyft rides with your child outside of NYC, it’s a great seat to have on hand at all times.
The IMMI GO car seat is a forward facing car seat, so it’s not meant for children under the age of one.
To ride safely in this seat, children must be between 31 and 52 inches tall. They must weigh between 22 and 48 pounds.
With this seat readily available for passengers with children in NYC, families can ride safely and enjoy some peace of mind.
To request a Lyft with a car seat, just select “car seat” as the ride type when you initially request your ride. Not all cars are equipped with the IMMI GO seat, so you’ll need to wait for a driver who has one available in your area.
The drivers that do have car seats go through a detailed training process on how to install and remove the seat before and after each ride. They also have to pass a test on their knowledge of how to safely install the seat. This test eliminates some drivers, so not all Lyft drivers are eligible to provide this service in their vehicle.
When you request a car seat ride, your driver will install the seat for you. But, parents and caregivers are solely responsible for securing their child in the seat.
While the driver will install the seat for you, Lyft is not responsible for any improperly installed seat. It’s up to the parent to verify that the seat is installed correctly and their child is secured safely in it.
Keep in mind that Lyft cars that offer the car seat service only have one IMMI GO on hand. If you’re traveling with two children, you will need to bring at least one car seat of your own.
Can I Bring My Own Car Seat Into a Lyft?
So if you’re not in New York City, should you bring your own child seat?
Absolutely! In fact, most drivers will cancel your trip if you attempt to get in the car with a child without a car seat.
But it’s not up to the parents or drivers alone — it’s actual law.
Regardless of where in the United States you live, children must always be restrained in the proper car seats or booster seats as established by state laws.
For example, in the state of New York, all children under age four and under 40 pounds must be secured in a child restraint system. Children under the age of two must be in a rear-facing seat. Children from age 4- 8 or over 40 pounds must be secured in a booster seat.
The laws and regulations vary from state to state, so it’s important to know the laws in your specific state, or any state you plan to travel through.
For a complete breakdown of the laws in all US states, click here.
Car Seat Options
Wondering which car seat is the best for your child?
In addition to the IMMI GO model that Lyft uses, here is a list of the top ten highest rated car seats for travel in 2019 (as ranked by Safety.com). If you plan to do a lot of walking at your destination, there are lightweight car seat models that you may prefer.
If you need a booster seat for an older child, check out this inflatable seat from BubbleBum. This seat has received excellent ratings from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. The best part about this seat is that it deflates so you can carry it right in your backpack or shoulder bag when you’re not in the car.
Do Other Ridesharing Apps Provide Car Seats?
If you prefer to take Uber over Lyft, rest assured that Uber offers a similar car seat service. However, as of right now, it too is only available in New York City.
The Uber car seat is the same IMMI GO model as Lyft, and it has the same size, age, weight, and height requirements for children.
As with Lyft, if your child requires a different type of seat, you must bring one yourself.
At this time, car seats are in UberX vehicles only, and a car seat ride will cost you an extra $10 per trip.
Things to Keep in Mind When Riding With a Child
Concerned that your Lyft or Uber driver will give you a bad rating for bringing a child seat into the car?
The truth is, most of them will refuse you as a passenger if you don’t.
With that in mind, there are some other things you should (and should not) do when riding with a child in an Uber or Lyft.
#1 Know how to install and operate your own car seat
As a parent traveling with a child, it’s up to you to know how to install your car seat and how to install your child in it. Be efficient. Know how your car seat works before you get into the vehicle.
You can’t expect a driver to waste their time waiting for you while you figure out how your own seat works.
Before you request a ridesharing service with a child in tow, practice installing and removing your car seat from other vehicles. Drivers understand that this will take a minute or two to do – but it shouldn’t take much longer than that.
#2 Make sure your car seat is clean
If your Lyft driver provided you a dirty car seat, you probably wouldn’t want to put your child in it.
That idea works both ways. Drivers don’t need your child’s cracker crumbs or sticky juice all over their back seat. If you’re bringing your own car seat into a Lyft, make sure the seat is clean.
#3 Don’t keep your driver waiting
The standard Lyft policy is that a driver will wait five minutes for you once they arrive at your pickup location.
If you’re traveling with a child and need time to install a car seat, don’t show up with 30 seconds to spare.
We’re not suggesting that you wait outside with a child in the cold or the rain. But you should be prompt enough that the driver won’t mind if it takes you five minutes to install your seat.
Some drivers are more patient than others, and some are parents, so you may get a driver that sympathizes with you and gives you some extra time.
Keep in mind, however, that every minute the driver is not actually driving, they are losing money. Don’t keep them waiting!
If you do keep them waiting, the driver can cancel your trip, and you’ll have to request a new ride, which could take even longer.
#4 Tip your driver
As you know, Lyft drivers can rate you as a passenger. And if they give you a 3-star rating or less, they will never get matched with you again. Keep that in mind whether you’re traveling alone or with a child.
Installing and removing a car seat will eat up some of the driver’s time. To compensate for that time wasted, give them a tip. Giving a good tip is one of the best ways to ensure that you get a good rating in return.
What Lyft Drivers Have to Say About Passengers with Car Seats
Wondering what actual drivers think about passengers with car seats?
Here’s what some drivers on Reddit have to say:
“No car seat, no ride!”
“Please. PLEASE bring your own car seat. I have no problem with that … I cancel three to four rides per month on parents without car seats for their kids. I’m happy to see one with a seat.”
“You and your infant/toddler are NOT getting in my car unless you have a car seat and secure it properly.”
“One aspect you might want to consider is that a one-mile ride is not much funds for a rider. Some markets it’s only $3-$5 a ride for the driver, but will take longer to complete with the car seat install. If you tip the driver, this will likely make up for their time and effort. It will also improve the chance that you keep a good passenger rating.”
When it comes to using a car seat in a Lyft or Uber, here’s the bottom line:
As a parent or a caregiver, the safety of the child relies solely on you. It is your duty and obligation to ensure that your child is safely restrained in a car seat or strapped into a booster seat that meets the laws of your state.
And if you’re planning on hiring Lyft or Uber drivers when you’re traveling in another state, then make sure you know the laws in that state as well.
Even if you’re taking a one-mile ride, you should never gamble with your child’s safety. If you have a small child and don’t have a car seat, most drivers won’t even give you a ride. They’ll just cancel your trip and move onto the next passenger.
And while there are inevitably drivers who are willing to break the rules, as a parent, you should not. Don’t run the risk of injuring your little one just because you don’t want to install and remove a car seat for a quick five-minute ride.
Accidents can happen in the blink of an eye. Make sure you and your child, regardless of their age, are using seat belts and are safely restrained at all times.