I thought that when you drove for Uber or Lyft, you were exempt from the law requiring young children to be in a child safety seat. Taxis are exempt from the Maryland child safety seat law. I was under the assumption that Maryland considered rideshare drivers to be like taxi drivers.
I was wrong. Maryland does not consider rideshare vehicles to be like taxis.
I cannot count how many times a passenger told me they did not need a child safety seat while riding in an Uber or Lyft vehicle. They would say they did not need a child safety seat for a taxi. The same thing was true with Uber or Lyft.
I began doing research online. Good, solid information was hard to find.
I decided to take the path of least resistance
I began allowing passengers with small children to ride without a child safety seat. Denying service to someone is my least favorite part of driving for Uber or Lyft. Refusing service to someone with a child because they did not have a child safety seat caused a lot of anxiety. Not only for me but for my would-be passenger.
Fast forward to this week. I drove a woman and her two small children. She did not have child safety seats for her children. The trip was a nightmare. The oldest child, he looked to be around four, was acting like a complete monster. Among other things, he was kicking the center console of my car and the mother seemed fine with that. I thought about saying something, but I did not think she spoke English. Plus, do you really need to tell someone not to allow their child to kick your center console?
I could feel a panic attack coming on. After dropping them off, I had to log off and decompress.
After I began feeling myself again, I thought about the trip and what I could have done differently. I realized that if the monster child was restrained in a proper child safety seat, he would not have been able to kick the center console.
Time to do more research
It was then I decided to once again research Maryland law covering child safety seats. I easily found the law dealing with child seats. What I could not find was an exemption for rideshare drivers or even taxi drivers.
I contacted the Maryland Kids In Safety Seats (KISS). It is a non-profit organization working alongside state government. Its mission is, “to reduce injuries and death among Maryland’s children by helping people to use child restraints (car seats and booster seats) correctly each time a child rides in a motor vehicle.”
I sent them an email explaining my question and asked if they could provide any information. They responded in less than an hour. I was told that rideshare drivers are not exempt from Maryland child safety seat laws. Taxis are exempt because they are not Class A vehicles. Personal vehicles used by Uber and Lyft drivers are Class A vehicles, so the law applies. They also sent a copy of the law with the applicable part highlighted:
Taxis are exempt because they are registered as Class B vehicles. Finally, a solid answer from someone who knew what they were talking about! Instead of trying to find the answer using my google-fu skills, I should have emailed KISS. Not the band, the organization.
My days of transporting children unrestrained in car safety seats are over. If a passenger has a child without the proper child safety restraint, they are not getting into my vehicle.