Do you have a college student? Or a soon to be college student? You should definitely have them download the Uber passenger app on their phone and add a credit card to it.

Why should you do it? Is it safe?

Many freshman aren’t allowed to have cars at college. This means they have to depend on someone else to take them places. What if they need something last minute for a project? What if they need groceries? What if they have a medical emergency that doesn’t justify an ambulance.

As a parent, it gives me peace of mind to know that if my son doesn’t have a car at college he still has transportation.

Many college students drink. We can all say “but my kid doesn’t or won’t” when in reality it is likely they might.  Are you worried about them getting in a car with a uber driver? I would be more worried about my son or daughter getting in a car with one of their friends that had been drinking.

Listen, if you do some searches and do your homework you will find cases of sketchy uber drivers. There is always that one driver in the US. Or even those two drivers. The best thing you can do is educate your child.

Uber does a background check on their drivers. I’m sure it isn’t like applying for a government job but it’s something. The drivers have to submit pictures of their valid drivers license, registration, and insurance before they are allowed to drive.

I wish there had been Uber when I was in college. We would have used it a lot. It’s the same price no matter if you put one person or four people in that car. The kids can split it four ways or they can take turns ordering the uber.

The Uber passenger app will track their phone with a GPS signal for 5 minutes after the ride is completed. As a parent, this gives me peace of mind to know where my child is between getting out of that car and into the building of their destination.

As an Uber driver, I’ve had numerous groups of college students in my car. I don’t drive late at night. I’ve taken college students to the mall. I’ve taken them to bars. I’ve taken them to friend’s houses. These kids of ours–they are smart. They are technology savvy. They know Uber but they may not have the credit card to link to their account.

Educate your child. Once they put in their ride, they will see a star rating for their driver. The best is 5 stars (my current ranking). If they have someone with a low ranking, they can quickly cancel the ride. Just wait a few minutes and put it in again. They will likely get a different driver. There are a lot of retired people out driving for extra cash. I’m a single mom and drive to pay for the extra things my kids need. It’s not a bunch of creepy people trying got take advantage of college kids.

Teach them to tip. I have a 17 year old son. He tips because I taught him to tip. He tips free valet drivers. He tips his hairdresser. He tips well & with his own money. If your child is heading to a bar or shopping, they can spend a couple of dollars to tip their uber driver–even if the app says they don’t have to.

Of all the college students I have driven, not one of them has tipped. I get it. They are college students. They don’t have a lot of money. But are you teaching them? I ask because the other subset of people that don’t tip are the traveling business people. The people I pick up from their prime rib dinner. The people that flew in gold preferred status. The people that could afford to tip their uber driver a couple of dollars just don’t. The people that historically tip their Uber drivers are the middle class. The people that get what you’re doing. So teach them to tip…and not just their Uber driver.

Tell them it’s ok to take an Uber. Don’t judge them. Don’t pull up their uber rides and question why they were riding to or from a specific place. Unless of course it is something that would get them in legal trouble. Let them have the Uber app as a safe alternative to walking a shortcut through a neighborhood they shouldn’t. Make it a safe alternative to having a bunch of friends get in a car with someone that’s been drinking.

Do you have a high school student? Find out where they are going before they leave. Give them a random code word to text you if they get in a situation they need out of. You can get an uber for them from your phone. After that, call them with some excuse saying you need them home & tell them there is an Uber coming for them. Just last week a mom had me pick her son up from water polo practice and take him home. The trip cost her less than $5 and she didn’t have to figure out how he was getting home.

Uber is good if you’re traveling or going to a high traffic area with minimal parking. It’s cheaper than taking a cab. The cars are typically cleaner and many of the drivers are friendlier.

If you have other thoughts or questions, I’d love to hear them.