COLUMBUS, Ohio — Parents in Columbus and 13 other cities across the U.S. now have the ability to add their teens to their Uber accounts.
Starting this week, Uber’s launch of teen accounts gives those between the ages of 13 and 17 the option to request and ride in an Uber by themselves.
"I know that I would have at least acquaintances and friends that would fall on the side of, 'absolutely not, my kid is not getting into a car with a stranger,'” said Cassia Mangin, a Columbus mom of two.
While Mangin understands why some parents might be against Uber’s new feature, she said she sees it as a big help with her oldest daughter.
"When she's working and it's during my workday, often as a single mom I can't be her to-and-from ride."
Mangin said her 18-year-old daughter doesn’t have a license. She works at Starbucks and is required to work a certain number of hours each week to pay for college.
Mangin said she feels Uber, in some ways, can be safer than public transportation.
"At least in Uber I can track where she's at, we have identifying information, somebody has identifying information about the driver,” Mangin said.
Other rideshare apps like Lyft prohibit unaccompanied minors from requesting a ride.
Mariana Esteves, lead product manager for Uber, works on Uber’s safety team and has worked directly with the launch of the teen accounts. She said teens will only be matched with experienced and highly rated drivers, and parents have full control over the account.
"The parent needs to invite the teen to create a teen account and ask them to join the parent's family profile,” Esteves said.
Parents and guardians can also live track their teen’s trip from start to finish.
Esteves said other safety features like pin verification and ride-check are always turned on. Parents can also contact their child’s driver directly through the app.
Audio recording is an additional feature that can be turned on as an additional safety measure.
"We're going to keep investing and expanding it, but it was really thought through having safety at the center,” Esteves said.
As for Mangin’s youngest daughter who is 9 years old, she said she will decide whether she feels comfortable with her using this feature when the time comes.
"If I can depend on her to be responsible and speak up for herself, keep her phone with her things like that, then I would consider it,” Mangin said.
The new app feature also launched in Cincinnati and Dayton this week.