Why Uber drivers are breaking the rules
GOLD Coast Uber drivers admit flouting rules not to pick up unaccompanied children as time-poor parents keep using the ride-share app for school pick-ups and drop offs.
Drivers on the Gold Coast says they regularly transport kids as young as eight without parents or guardians despite an Uber guideline advising against it.
Uber's own guidelines require users to be 18 years and over.
One driver said yesterday he transported children unaccompanied at least twice a week, mostly for school-runs.
"It's becoming more of a common practice I think because more parents work and the kids have to get to school somehow," the driver said.
"From eight or nine years old, up to around 14 or 15, sometimes I'm dropping off three kids (siblings) at different schools.
"There are thousands of Uber drivers on the Coast, they'd be doing the same," he said, adding he was not aware of Uber's age policy.
Surfers Paradise MP and former education minister John-Paul Langbroek in 2016 raised the "significant safety issue" of kids using ride-shares unaccompanied - prompting schools to address the issue with parents.
Yesterday he said he was disturbed it was still happening.
"It's greatly concerning three years after concerns were raised about the safety of children using Uber unaccompanied, it has continued to take place," he said.
Drivers are not given details about passengers until they arrive though occasionally receive instructions from parents through the online app.
Drivers are also able to reject a job if they wish, potentially dumping a vulnerable child unattended by the side of the road.
But despite concerns the driver felt the service was safe for kids.
"We haven't had any problems on the Gold Coast that I'm aware of. I know the city has problems with it but here on the Gold Coast I think it's okay," he said.
"When you go for Uber licences they do police checks on you."
An Uber spokeswoman said the company's terms and conditions had always been clear passengers must be 18 and over.
"If your child is using your account, a parent or guardian must be with them at all times," the spokeswoman said.
Uber guidelines state; "As a driver-partner in a city that doesn't allow minors to ride, you should decline the ride request if you believe the person requesting the ride is under 18. If a rider is underage, please do not start the trip or allow them to ride."
Drivers are told to demand ID if unsure of the person's age.
In a bid to make the ride-share industry safer for kids, Gold Coast woman Kailene Squire has launched a new ride-sharing service specifically for unaccompanied under-18s.
Her app Mums Driver has been popular during its soft-launch last month with plans to ramp up ahead of term two for school later this month.
The drivers, who are all mothers themselves, carry a blue card with parents able to track the journey through the app similar to Uber.
"They have to have a good driving record and a good police record so surely this gives parents that level of comfort that all of our drivers are mums and grandmas and have been checked out," Ms Squire said.
"It's a premium service so whilst it costs a little bit more than Uber, you're putting your kids in someone's hands so you need to be able to trust that they're with the right people.
"I'm expecting there will be big demand."
Families, particularly working parents or single parents were not always able to rely on family and friends for a lift and were forced to outsource, she said.
"We'll pick them up before school or afterwards and take them to their after-school sports.
"We've had a lot of parents tell us they get stuck in meetings and might not make it for the end of after-school care so we'll drop kids at the office or at home, wherever they need to go."