Disclosure: Ridester.com is supported by our users. We may recieve compensation from the companies whose products we write about, test, or review. We are independently owned and the opinions expressed here are our own. Please refer to our Affiliate Disclosure for more information.
Safety is a critical part of any Lyft ride, but those with little ones in tow need to take extra steps to ensure the entire family is protected. Whether you’re a rider or driver, you need to understand the Lyft car seat policy that keeps children as safe as possible.
As Lyft becomes increasingly popular in the United States and Canada, more and more adults are considering it as a transportation option. This includes adults with kids by their side. Families use the rideshare app while they travel and take their children to school. To comply with local laws and protect kids, Lyft has strict car seat standards that riders and drivers must abide by during each of these trips.
In this article, we’ll explain the Lyft car seat policy and how to request a ride with a car seat included.
- Lyft Car Seat Policy
- How Much Does It Cost to Bring a Car Seat?
- What Is Lyft Car Seat Mode?
- How Lyft Car Seat Mode Works
- Things to Keep in Mind When Riding With a Child
- Frequently Asked Questions
Lyft Car Seat Policy
Minors who are accompanied by adults can join any Lyft ride. However, if local laws require them to ride in a car seat or booster seat, Lyft’s car seat policy requires the minor’s guardian to provide the right equipment.
It’s crucial for riders with young children to know the car seat laws in their state and city before requesting a rideshare service. Not only are you expected to purchase and bring a proper car seat or booster seat based on your child’s age, but you also need to know how to meet legal installation requirements. For example, many state laws require convertible seats to be installed as rear-facing seats until children reach a certain age or weight.
To limit liability, rideshare drivers are not required to — and should not — help with any part of the installation or buckling process.
Though Lyft drivers can’t help with car seats, drivers should still stay up-to-date with local car seat laws. This is because transporting minors who are not properly secured can be a reason for deactivation. When you know the basic car seat laws in your city and a parent doesn’t supply the proper car seat for a child, you can safely cancel requests. You can always ask for the child’s age to further limit your own liability.
To keep minors who don’t need car seats or booster seats safe, we also recommend being aware of other vehicle passenger laws. Riders who are under 16 or riding in the front seat are typically required to wear a seat belt. In many states, minors are strictly prohibited from riding in the front seat until they reach a certain age.
How Much Does It Cost to Bring a Car Seat?
There are no extra Lyft fees for bringing a car seat on any trip request. As long as the rider shows up to the pick-up location on time — usually within five minutes of the driver’s arrival — car seats are not a problem at all. If you don’t arrive on time, you’ll be charged a no-show fee of $5 and your ride will be cancelled.
However, be aware that installing and uninstalling car seats may take another minute or two at the pick-up and drop-off locations. Because of this, we recommend riders tip their drivers a bit extra for their patience. Standard Lyft tipping etiquette calls for 15% gratuity, so tipping at least 20% when you bring a car seat is a great rule of thumb.
When you’re bringing a car seat (and any young child in general), we recommend against requesting a Lyft Shared or Shared Saver ride. This is because customers expect shorter wait times for these ride types, so your fellow passengers may not appreciate waiting for installation or riding with an active child. However, if you only have the budget for shared rides, be aware that your child counts as your second passenger. Anyone else in your party would need to request a separate ride.
Even though Lyft driver earnings aren’t guaranteed to be higher (tips aren’t required) when driving riders with car seats, drivers should still be patient with these passengers. Riders can submit a complaint if you cancel upon arrival just because they have a child and car seat in tow.
What Is Lyft Car Seat Mode?
If you’re located in New York City, Lyft’s car seat mode is a unique ride option that allows users to request a ride that already includes a forward-facing car seat. For a $10 surcharge — added on top of your fare based on local, standard Lyft rates — riders will be matched with a vehicle that includes one IMMI GO car seat. In addition to the car seat-riding child, three passengers are allowed.
Children who ride the IMMI GO car seat must be:
- 32 inches to 52 inches tall
- 22 pounds to 48 pounds
- At least 2 years old
When they request this car seat option, riders are responsible for securing their children in the car seat and removing them upon drop-off. However, drivers take on the responsibility of safely installing, uninstalling, and maintaining the car seat.
Lyft Car Seat drivers are all tested on their knowledge of these processes before they can drive for the service.
Keep in mind that Lyft’s minor policy, which does not allow unaccompanied minors to ride on the platform, applies regardless of whether you supply your own car seat or request a Lyft Car Seat ride.
How Lyft Car Seat Works
It’s easy to request the Lyft Car Seat service as a rider in NYC. Once you’re logged into the Lyft app, tap the “Search destination” bar on your home screen to enter your pick-up and drop-off locations, then select the “Car seat” option as your ride type. Review the price for your trip before you book.
When your driver arrives at your pick-up location, you’re responsible for double-checking the car seat is safely installed and securing your child in the provided car seat. At the end of the ride, simply unbuckle and pick up your child, clean up any little messes they caused, and you’re good to go.
If riders need more than one car seat, they still need to bring, install, and uninstall their own car seat.
For drivers who are approved for car seat mode, Lyft Car Seat requests will look no different than other requests you receive on the Lyft driver app. However, you’ll receive a heads up that you need to install your car seat at the start and end of the trip.
Lyft is not currently accepting new drivers for the car seat option, but if you get the chance to apply, you’ll need to review training materials and take a test to get approved.
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 rideshare 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.
Frequently Asked Questions
When you’re riding with your little one or driving an accompanied minor, understanding the Lyft car seat policy will keep your ride efficient and safe. Read these frequently asked questions for more insight into your options:
Does Uber offer a ride option like Lyft’s car seat mode?
Yes, the Uber app offers a similar service called Uber Car Seat in New York City that uses the same car seat model as Lyft. Uber drivers for this service are fully trained and have one IMMI GO car seat available. Uber Car Seat adds a $10 surcharge to standard UberX prices — which means higher earnings for qualified drivers — and requires children to meet the same age, weight, and height requirements as Lyft.
Can I still request a normal Lyft ride and bring my own car seat in NYC?
Absolutely. If you have your own car seat, you definitely aren’t limited to requesting the Lyft Car Seat service. This is simply a convenient service for parents who don’t own a car seat or families who are traveling.
Can I request a ride that comes with a booster seat?
Lyft does not currently offer a ride option that includes booster seats. You’ll need to bring your own if your child is required to have one.
Ride Safely With Your Kids
Safety is always the top priority when it comes to our children. When you know Lyft’s car seat policy and the requirements kids need to meet for Lyft-provided car seats, you can take full advantage of ridesharing that keeps your little ones secure.
If you don’t have the time to ride with your child as they commute to school or drive to events, you still have options. Learn about four “Uber for kids” services that can match your children with vetted drivers with childcare experience so your busy family can stay on schedule.
Brett Helling is the owner of Ridester.com. He has been a rideshare driver since early 2012, having completed hundreds of trips for companies including Uber, Lyft, and Postmates. In 2014 he acquired Ridester.com to share his experiences with other drivers. His insights are regularly quoted by publications such as Forbes, Vice, CNBC, and more. He is currently working on a book about working in the Gig Economy, expanding his skill set beyond the rideshare niche. Read more about Brett here.