Uber Users Undeterred by Age Restriction

Kaelyn Rodrigues | Staff Writer

Most underclassmen are too young to drive, but some have found a way to bypass Uber’s age restrictions to hitch a ride.

When looking for other ways to get around, they can’t always depend on Uber either.

Uber is a mobile ridesharing service which allows users to schedule rides with drivers on-demand. Sophomore Rudra Kamat turned to the transportation app when she was unable to drive herself home from after-school activities. Kamat said she took precautions because she wasn’t sure how safe it was to take an Uber alone.

“I started using Uber my freshman year because that’s when I started having a lot of after-school activities,” Kamat said. “I couldn’t drive, but I needed to get back home. I usually don’t take Ubers by myself because it’s a security issue, so I go with my friends.”

Uber requires all riders to be at least 18 years old unless accompanied by an adult. Sophomore Ariana Boateng has used Uber for the past two years and despite this rule said she has only been questioned about her age once.

The (driver) actually asked, ‘are you 18?’ and I said no,” Boateng said. “She said most Ubers, if I am under 18, (will) usually kick me out, so she told me from now on to just tell people I’m 18 because I look the part. That’s the policy but nobody asked me except for that one time.”

Sophomore Rudra Kamat and Jessie Kong utilize Uber for quick, convenient rides to and from school. Prices range from $7.99 to $19.11 per ride.

Although Kamat said most of her Uber rides have been uneventful, on one occasion she worried after being assigned the same driver two days in a row. While there is no rule against having the same Uber driver twice, Kamat said she was concerned because it had never happened to her before.

“One time I was with my friend and we actually got the same (driver) twice,” Kamat said. “We had taken him the day before so I tried to cancel the ride the second time, but then he came back. He recognized us so it was really awkward; we were hesitant about having to take the same (driver).” 

When the driver arrived to pick up Kamat and her friend, she said he confronted her and asked why she attempted to cancel the ride.

“He was like, ‘I saw that you canceled my ride,’ and we were just like, ‘Oh, I think that was a glitch in the app,’” Kamat said. “I didn’t want to go with the same guy twice since that’s never (happened) to me before. I thought it was weird he was near the school around the same time he took me the day before.”

Sophomore Jessie Kong said she first used Uber when she was suddenly left without a ride to school. Kong said the timeliness and user-friendliness of the transportation app are some of the reasons why she continued to use Uber.

“Ubers are pretty convenient because you can order a ride at any time and the Uber will be at your house in 10 or fewer minutes, at least from what I’ve experienced,” Kong said.                     

“If you realize you don’t have a way to get somewhere last minute, you can always rely on Uber.”

Kong said that regardless of her positive experiences with Uber, she still feels apprehensive when first getting into the drivers’ vehicles.

“I’m still always scared getting into and riding Ubers because of the stories I’ve heard of people getting murdered or injured by their drivers,” Kong said. “Being in the car though, I’ve always felt like my driver was genuine and trustworthy.”

Though not all of her Uber rides have been flawless, Boateng said using Uber is safe due to all of the safety procedures put in place to protect both riders and drivers.

“I think it’s safe to ride alone, especially since Uber does like background checks and stuff before they hire people,” Boateng said. “It’s very convenient, it’s affordable, and it’s a good way to get around if you don’t have anyone else to drive you and you can’t drive yourself.”

While Kong has used the app for over a year, she said her Uber drivers have never asked about her age. In fact, she was unaware of the company’s policy regarding minors. Upon finding out that minors are prohibited from riding without adult supervision, Kong said she would still use Uber if necessary.

“Now knowing that minors aren’t supposed to ride without an adult, I’d probably still use Uber if I needed to,” Kong said. “I’ve never had any problems before so don’t think I will in the future, (but) I try to use Uber as little as possible. It might be convenient, but there’s still a cost.”

Graphic by Ryan D’Souza.