Jumping in and out of taxis is just a part of life for most New Yorkers – as is gritting your teeth as your driver weaves through traffic and blows through intersections. But when you have a child in tow, the hazards associated with cab rides become more frightening.

A recent study, published by the American Academy of Pediatrics, found that parents may have reason to worry. By observing pick-ups and drop-offs at busy locations, researchers discovered that only 11 percent of children who rode in taxis were secured in proper safety seats. In the event of an accident, many children riding in cabs may be unprotected and even more vulnerable to serious injury

The researchers also contacted nearly 100 taxi companies in New York City to ask about their policies surrounding car seats. While about 40 percent of the companies said they have safety seats available, those seats are not always provided to parents and children when appropriate. One in five of those companies said that they have a limited number of car seats, or that an advance reservation is required.

While it may be tempting to use Uber or Lyft instead of a traditional taxi, consider how it could affect your child’s safety. Because you cannot choose which rideshare driver accepts your ride request, you have very little control over whether the car will have an appropriate safety seat.

How Can You Protect Your Child During A Cab Ride?

  • There are laws requiring the use of proper child safety seats in private vehicles, but many municipalities exempt taxis. Consider the following options to protect your child’s safety.
  • While carrying your own car seat is often impossible, particularly with a small child in tow, manufacturers are making strides. Some companies offer strollers that convert into car seats.
  • Several taxi companies do have child seats available if you call in advance. Consider planning ahead so the seat will be ready for your child as soon as the cab pulls up.
  • If you must take a child on a ride without a safety seat, fasten him or her in a separate seat belt. Do NOT hold the child on your lap, as this is extremely dangerous in the event of an accident.
  • When buckling the child’s seatbelt, make sure it is as tight and low across the lap as possible. Do not allow the child to put the neck strap behind his or her back.
  • Many cab drivers are reluctant to wait for seatbelt adjustments and other precautions if they are not being paid for their time. Let your driver know that you are willing to pay for any wait time required to ensure your child’s safety.