Uber plans to start letting teens arrange to be picked up and ride to their destinations alone — ending a policy that required all passengers under 18 to be accompanied by an adult.
The new program is set to launch Monday in more than a dozen major metro areas in the U.S. and Canada, including New York City, Atlanta, Dallas and Houston, CNN reported Wednesday.
Kids 13 to 17 will be able to sign up for special accounts that will provide unique personal identification numbers they will have to give their drivers and the Uber app will automatically record audio of the rides, CNN said.
Other features will reportedly allow parents to track their kids' rides in real time through their own apps, and also contact the drivers and Uber's support team.
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Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi, who announced the plan Wednesday, said that “only experienced and highly rated drivers will be eligible to complete trips with teens," according to CNN.
Khosrowshahi reportedly touted the program as a way for families to “manage the craziness” of getting kids from place to place and said it would ensure that “parents can have peace of mind.”
Uber said it was developed following consultation with the nonprofit Safe Kids Worldwide advocacy group, according to CNN.
In a statement, Safe Kids said it was pleased Uber had made parents "part of the beginning, middle, and end of the teen ride" and hoped "that by expanding Uber’s ridership, we can help create more equitable solutions for families facing barriers to transportation."
In April 2022, an Uber driver was charged with kidnapping a 19-year-old woman who jumped out of his vehicle after he refused to stop at her destination, a Starbucks coffee shop on Cape Cod, Massachusetts, WCVB Boston reported at the time.
Three months later, the company was sued by five anonymous women who alleged they were sexually assaulted by drivers in California, Pennsylvania and Massachusetts, with the law firm handling the case saying it about 550 clients with potential, claims against Uber.
In response to the suit, Uber said, "There is nothing more important than safety, which is why Uber has built new safety features, established survivor-centric policies, and been more transparent about serious incidents."
Last year, the ride-hailing giant released its second biennial safety report, which acknowledged 247 rapes in 2019 and 141 in 2022, for a rate of about one in 5 million trips.
The company also said that 99.9% of all rides during those years "ended without any safety incident."
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