What’s now a household name was just a need for a ride in Paris in 2008. The creators of Uber launched the app in March of 2009 and the world of transportation has never been the same. It wasn’t until 2012 that Uber got their biggest competitor in the name of Lyft. Though Uber still holds the majority of market share, the idea that a ride sharing app could take over the transportation industry, in ways the traditional taxi never could, is a testament to the power and reach of technology.
As parents send their kids off into the real world, they have to grapple with how they’re making decisions completely on their own. Mom and dad are no longer around to whisper words of advice or be a voice of reason when they feel like there is need for interjection. Suggestions might be more welcomed though, once kids start realizing they don’t know it all.
Nights out used to mean calling a taxi or trusting a friend to be the designated driver. Parents could feel safe in knowing that their kids were hopping into the car of a vetted professional or someone they sort of knew, if only through quick weekend visits or phone calls. However, trusting a perfect stranger to pick up vulnerable college students, people in places they aren’t familiar with, or even those same parents on business trips has become commonplace.
To be a part of the Uber or Lyft driver networks, drivers must go through a background check. Uber touts showing driver profiles including name, license plate number, photo, and other rider ratings. Lyft requires extensive background checks and commercial automobile liability. Background checks are great, but what happens when protocol falls through?
Last year, Uber missed criminal records of 25 drivers in just two cities. As a parent, imagine hearing this news and knowing that your child is out opening an app tonight to find a driver to get them home safely. Perhaps that child isn’t in one of these two cities, but you’re wondering how many more drivers in how many more cities have been overlooked. There’s a new form of stranger danger.
But, just like all forms of technology, there must be some degree of trust. There may have been 25 drivers overlooked, but there are over 160,000 drivers in the U.S. alone. That number wouldn’t even create a data point when comparing it to the big picture. With eight million users worldwide, as of 2015, there has been very little flack for the ride sharing business. It has been a great source of secondary income and a reliable means of transportation.
Communities are inherently safer with these apps too. Uber has partnered with Mothers Against Drunk Driving to give everyone a safer option for getting home and it is now the non-profit’s official designated driving app. Lyft offers a Trust & Safety team who is available around the clock for any incident. Parents can rest assured that their children have every opportunity available to them to get home safely, whether because they are not physically capable of driving themselves, or they don’t have the means to get where they need to go.
While it might seem odd to parents and grandparents to pick up the phone, open an app, click a button, and get a ride, it isn’t far from calling a memorized taxi cab company number or hopping into the first yellow cab sitting in line at the airport. What is different, users can see ratings in an instant, steer clear of drivers that might seem complicated, or know when to walk away when the driver doesn’t look anything like the picture they’ve been shown previously. Now, that sort of knowledge is exactly what parents want to equip their children with.