September 22, 2017
A 13-year-old Florida girl riding Lyft alone in the middle of the night was killed when her 17-year-old driver ran off a wet highway into some trees. The 17-year-old driver had only a learner’s permit; he was using his mother’s Lyft account to make money.
The driver picked up the 13-year-old girl in her pajamas in front of her house at 1:30 a.m. She was sneaking out to a boy’s house. The girl’s grandmother was sleeping while her mother, a nurse, was working the overnight shift. Reportedly, the child died on the return trip when the 17-year-old picked her back up at 5:30 a.m. and was driving her home.
What a disaster.
The girl’s mother is reportedly suing Lyft for violating its own policy which prohibits unaccompanied minors.
Lawsuit technicalities aside, this extremely sad case involves circumstances we’ve seen repeatedly:
Uber and Lyft drivers ferry unaccompanied minors all the time. The companies say it’s against their policy, but haven’t made any significant efforts to stop it. “They know what’s happening and are looking the other way,” says Harry Campbell at The Rideshare Guy.
Busy parents = profit.
The 17-year-old Lyft driver borrowed his mother’s app login to make money. Sometimes it’s friends who borrow the app. Uber and Lyft are aware of this, too. Obviously, these unauthorized replacement drivers have never received any background check and yet repeatedly slip behind the wheel.
More unfortunate patterns: Passengers don’t reliably check to make sure the Uber or Lyft driver’s name, face, car and license plate matches what’s provided by the app. Obviously, this 13-year-old girl sneaking out of her house in her pajamas didn’t even notice her driver wasn’t a woman.
Finally, the driver and passenger may have arranged a cash trip here. Else how did the same driver come to pick up the same girl four hours later at 5:30 a.m.? Did the Lyft app coincidentally summon him again? Or, did he simply arrange to pick her up later? If there was a verbal arrangement, this may have been a cash trip performed outside of the Lyft app. And if this was a cash trip, there was no insurance coverage whatsoever on this ride. Meaning: If this car had hit a family of six, instead of a tree, any damages to the family could be uncompensated by insurance.
There are so many things wrong with an unscreened 17-year-old with a learner’s permit picking up an unaccompanied 13-year-old girl in the middle of the night that it boggles the mind.
There’s really only two things for sure about this trip:
#1 Lyft profited financially;
#2 Lyft and Uber should take active steps to ban children riding unaccompanied.