Uber, Grab drivers have been turning down passengers with young kids. But you can't really blame them! Read why...
Next time the Uber or Grab car driver turns you down when he sees your little one, don't get angry. He is just obeying the law.
Rules for private hire cars
According to The New Paper, under the Road Traffic Act, it is illegal for private hire cars, which include Grab and Uber, to carry passengers under 1.35m, without a booster seat or a child restraint.
On breaking the law they stand to face a composition fine of $120 and three demerit points. If charged in court, they can be fined up to $1,000 or jailed up to three months.
So why are taxis exempt from this rule?
According to the Traffic Police, taxis being public service vehicles, it would not be practical for them to carry a number of child-safety seats of different sizes. Some taxi companies here offer baby seats upon request, but they do not come cheap.
However, it is mandatory that anyone below 1.35m be seated in the rear of the taxi.
Not many are aware of this rule though. Many commuters end up turning angry and violent when faced with last minute rejection by the drivers. Recently, there have been incidents in Singapore, where passengers tried to forcefully enter the car and ended up abusing the driver and slamming the door shut.
Grab advises that those with children below 1.35m and travelling without child booster seats should book the GrabFamily service, which are GrabCars equipped with booster seats for children between four and seven years old. Do note that the GrabFamily service costs about $2 more than a regular GrabCar.
We understand that the safety of the child is of paramount importance here. The big question is, why then are taxis exempt from this rule?
Safety precautions taken by parents travelling in taxis with young kids.
According to The Straits Times, although taxis in Singapore are exempt from child-safety seat requirements, many parents have been lugging their own car seats along. They don't want to take the risk as far as their baby or child is concerned.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in the United States, car seats are 54 percent effective in reducing deaths for children aged 1 to 4 in passenger cars, as compared with a child riding completely unrestrained.
When it comes to car seats, hassles faced by parents include the extra time it takes for them to install these seats in taxis and lock them into place. Some parents tend to avoid taxis for this reason, preferring to take public transport like buses or trains instead.
Some mothers would rather babywear their child and put a seat belt over both of them. Some end up buckling their children with the adult seat belt to save time. Which may actually not be a bad idea for kids older than 2, according to this report. It says that the adult seat belt does offer a considerable amount of safety for young kids; the idea is to basically ensure that children always ride with some kind of restraint.
Age appropriate safety options for children
Meanwhile, here are various options available to ensure that your little bub is safe and well protected while on the go:
- Newborns and Infants: You might want to opt for an infant car seat which can be clipped into a compatible stroller. They are often sold together as a "travel system". You might also want to opt for a lightweight convertible car seat, which can be rear-facing or forward-facing. It is said to be five times safer for children under four to travel rear-facing as their vertebrae have not fully formed yet.
Some infant seats, can be installed using just a vehicle's seat belt. Others, however, may need a locking clip to secure the car seat.
Most seat belts in taxis and cars here do not have the ALR or child restraint mode, where the user can tighten the seat belt to hold the car seat in the right position. Most seat belts are in the ELR mode, which locks only in an accident. The car seat would not be locked in place at other times.
When it comes to cabs, many parents book cabs which come with Isofix - U-shaped anchors, which allow child-safety seats to be secured firmly, without needing a seat belt. Cabs such as Comfort Hyundai i40, and SMRT and TransCab Chevrolet Epica LT, have Isofix and can be booked in advance.
- Toddlers: Toddlers have the option of a folding forward-facing car seat. These can be folded and slipped into the baskets of strollers. It is easier to install in taxis that come with Isofix - U-shaped anchors but can also be installed with a seat belt if necessary. It usually takes only a couple of minutes to install.
- Young children: Children 4 and above, usually need booster seats. These lift the child up so that the adult seat belt can be properly positioned over the child's body. There is also the option of a wearable booster seat. Conforming to seat-belt guides, it lowers the adult seat belt so that it can be fastened properly over the child's body.
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