(The Hill) — Uber announced on Wednesday the launch of a new feature that will let teenagers under the age of 18 open accounts and take rides on their own.
In a news release, the ride-hailing company said that its “Teen accounts” will allow teens from 13- to 17-year-olds to set up their own personal accounts through their families’ profiles.
The company said that only experienced and highly-rated drivers are eligible to take on rides from teens, and drivers can also opt out of driving a teen.
Teens riding alone in Ubers is not new, but the new policies mark a change in how the company deals with them. Parents have long used Uber as a carpool alternative, and teenagers have set up their own accounts despite users technically being required to be 18. The decision on whether to check IDs to verify the age of riders has largely been left to drivers.
The new policy also comes as the number of teen drivers has fallen drastically in recent decades, with only 25 percent of 16-year-olds holding a driver’s license, according to Federal Highway Administration data.
Parents will now have the ability to live-track their child’s trip so they will know exactly where their teen is going and who is behind the wheel, and can also contact their teen’s drivers directly during trips and contact the company’s support team to report an issue on behalf of their teen.
Other safety features will always be automatically turned on during trips and teens will have the option to activate the audio recording feature as well.
“With a teen account, they’ll have the freedom to request their own rides—and you’ll be notified every time they do. Plus, with live safety features and real-time updates, you can follow along from pickup to dropoff,” the company said in its statement.
“One thing that will never change is our commitment to helping keep your teens safe while using Uber. Together, let’s get them moving.”
Teen accounts will also be made available on Uber Eats, as the platform will make it easier for parents to keep tabs on orders and monitor their teens spending on the app.
Uber’s latest initiative for teen riders will be available later this month in select cities in the U.S. and Canada.