Ride-hailing services continue to become more popular and expand into new areas across Pennsylvania. They play a vital role in our transportation network.
The increasing popularity of these services comes with some challenges. One challenge involves transporting children in the proper seat for their age, height and weight.
Many parents and caregivers do not understand that ride-hailing services and taxis are not exempt from Pennsylvania's Child Passenger Safety Laws. That means all children under the age of 8 years old must be in an approved child safety seat.
Additionally, all children under the age of 18 years of age must wear a seat belt, regardless of where they are seated in the vehicle.
Promoting Safety in PennDOT District 3
After hearing about the issue from Robert Johnson, a local driver, District 3's Safety Press Officer Kim Smith began working with a group of drivers to get the message out.
Last spring, Smith presented a program to about 20 local drivers, educating them on child passenger safety laws and offering car seat safety tips and common misuses.
PennDOT created an infographic to be used on social media and sent articles to local legislators that could be included in their weekly emailed newsletters.
More recently, Smith arranged for three local drivers to be interviewed by reporter Josh Brokaw of NorthCentralPA.com.
"I knew we had to reach young parents, many who do not get their news from traditional news sources. I reached out to the local online news organization who jumped right in to help educate users of ride-hailing services," said Smith. "Not only does the organization have a website, but they have over 47,000 likes on their Facebook page and nearly 4,000 followers on Instagram."
Efforts will continue statewide and in PennDOT's District 3, with plans to shoot a video public service announcement (PSA) with Johnson to be shared on the department's social media sites. Smith also has incorporated the information in her child passenger safety outreach efforts.
If you're using a ride-hailing service to travel with a child, don't forget about their car seat! Also remember to practice COVID-19 safety protocols when using these services.