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Study asks: Do ride-share users bring safety seats for their children?

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Blacksburg, VA — Nearly half of parents who use ride-share vehicles with their kids don’t bring – or use – appropriate child safety seats, according to new research from the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute and the Texas A&M Transportation Institute.

Researchers conducted a series of focus groups with parents and ride-share drivers, as well as a nationwide survey of parents, to measure the ability to transport young children safely via popular ride-sharing services such as Uber and Lyft. They also looked at child restraint laws nationwide, and learned that 34 states exempt taxis and for-hire vehicles from child restraint requirements.

Key findings:

  • More than one-third of parents surveyed said they had used ride-share services with their children.
  • During focus group interviews, 75 percent of ride-share drivers reported they had transported children, but only half recalled a car seat being used.
  • Overall, parents want to use car seats but are unclear on their state’s rules and often feel deterred by a lack of car seat options.

“These findings suggest that parents would like to be able to transport their children more safely when using ride-share vehicles,” said Justin Owens, a research scientist at VTTI and principal investigator on the project, “but there is a real need for user-friendly information about rules, regulations and resources surrounding travel with children.”

In response, VTTI has launched KidsRideSafe.org as a resource for parents and caregivers using ride-share services. The website lists regulations by state, along with various federal resources on the topic.

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