Uber and Grab drivers have the right to reject passengers with children below 1.35m (approx. 7 years and below).
Yes, you heard it right. If their cars do not have booster seats or restraints, it would be illegal for them to accept passengers with young children.
Offenders can face a fine of $120 and three demerit points. If they are charged in court, the fine can go up to $1,000 or imprisonment of up to three months.
Not many commuters know of this rule but it’s mandatory for everyone in vehicles to be properly belted up. This includes infants and toddlers.
Taxis don’t have to comply to this law as it’s supposedly unreasonable or impractical for public service cars to carry child seats.
why are private hire cars not exempted like taxis?
They also provide point-to-point transport services so why are they not exempted from the child restraint requirement?
There are a few ways of looking at it.
One, Uber and Grab are “private” hire vehicles and not “public” service vehicles. Because they’re private, they abide by a different set of regulations.
Second, if Uber and Grab are also exempted like taxis, it will make enforcement of child safety in other cars more difficult. How will the police differentiate the Uber/Grabs from other cars?
Soon, private hire cars will have to display a tamper-evident decal but until then, it will be a challenge for the traffic police to distinguish the two.
Should LTA exempt private hire cars from the child restraint requirement?
With more than 20,000 Uber and Grab cars on the road everyday, providing point-to-point transport services like taxis, why are they not considered “public service vehicles”?
Why should taxis be exempted from the child-seat restraint law? Do children miraculously survive in an impact involving a taxi?
If such requirements make for an unlevel-playing field, why isn’t LTA amending the policies to demonstrate fairness?
Some commuters do not understand that private hire drivers cannot accept these child commuters. There have been reports of verbal abuse. There are also reports that income is affected because when these drivers reject rides, they won’t be able to earn bonus offered by their respective companies.
Is it an insurance issue?
Yes, Private-hire cars and taxis have separate insurance policies. However, this is a matter of administrative policy.
We called up several insurance companies to find out if they provide commercial insurance for Uber and Grab and whether it covers children below 1.35m.
Aviva doesn’t offer such products while AXA’s commercial insurance for Uber and Grab doesn’t cover young children.
NTUC Income advised drivers to reject passengers with children if their cars have no booster seats. If they decide to accept, it will be unlawful and no claims can be made against the driver in the event of an accident.
How should this issue be resolved?
Perhaps there should be greater clarity on whether or not private hire cars can be considered “public service vehicles” like taxis.
If not, the authorities should find a way to differentiate private hire cars from other vehicles – decals would be a good starting point.
What is the reason for discrimination? Children are not immune from accidents in a taxi, why should taxis be exempted from having booster seats but not any other vehicle?
Policymakers should keep up with the times and create relevant policies for the people.
Photo credit: AsiaOne/The Straits Times