Legally speaking, car seats are not required in Texas, according to state law. However, when it comes to policies of both Uber and Lyft, car seats are required.
According to TxDPS “Vehicles for hire: taxi cabs, limousines, hired shuttles, public transit buses and also passenger vehicles in which all seating positions equipped with safety seat systems and safety belts are occupied, are exempt from the child passenger safety law”
source: Texas DPS Child Safety FAQ’s.
The argument many drivers make is that we are not a taxi cab and therefore this law does not apply. While the statement of Uber and Lyft vehicles not being classified as a taxi cab is true and a valid argument, we are classified as vehicles for hire. How do we determine rideshare vehicles are also for hire? Do you take passengers for free? Or are you paid to pick them up and take them to a their destination? If you are paid, you are a vehicle for hire. This seems like a really simple definition, but it is lost on a lot of drivers. However, just because you are a vehicle for hire, does not mean your vehicle is any safer. If you are involved in a wreck, that kid/baby has as much of a chance to get seriously injured or worse. (knock on wood). as if they were in their parents car without a car seat. That will always be on your conscience.
Now, when it comes to the policies of both Uber and Lyft. Car seats ARE required. What does this mean? Let’s say you decide to take a child that clearly needs a car seat. If you were to get into a wreck, it is very likely Uber and Lyft’s insurance will deny coverage. Even if you have a rideshare endorsement (as you should) through your own insurance, coverage may still be denied because you took that kid or baby without a car seat. If you have ever been in a wreck, you know the insurance companies will always want to deny coverage, after all, they do lose money every time they have to pay. In Uber and Lyft’s situation, that is a potential million dollars per accident. There is no way they will pay that amount without a good fight. Being on the bottom of the totem pole, means you will get pushed around. (if you are every in a wreck while on app, it is highly recommended you lawyer up as quickly as possible, no matter how minor it maybe.).
Now, full disclosure, I am not licensed to practice law in Texas. But if you read the laws for your self, you will agree with everything posted here. There is a driver in driver groups on Facebook, that claims he used to be a cop, and he would write tickets to drivers. While, this may be true, just because you get a ticket, does not mean you have to pay. Cops are not judges. I love and support the police. I call them when I need them, but they are sometimes wrong. They are only human and their word is not gold. That is why we have a judicial system which I also believe in. At the end of the day, that passenger hired you and your vehicle. AKA Vehicle for Hire. You would be hard pressed to fight that definition.
As a parent, I have never understood why so many parents take this risk. I have cancelled on many of these riders without car seats. It really makes me upset that these riders think its okay. The problem is so many drivers say okay, I will take you just once. Or maybe they don’t say anything. Maybe they don’t know. But your car is not a magically stronger than the next. Do you really want that on your conscience because you wanted a few dollars? If you are that desperate, perhaps you need to find another gig that pays more.