For many people, when rideshare companies like Uber and Lyft came onto the scene it completely changed how they viewed transportation options. Some regular riders have even given up their cars entirely. And why not? Car ownership means budgeting for insurance and gas money, doing regular car maintenance, and having to deal with the occasional breakdown or flat tire. Switching entirely to rideshares for transportation pushes all that onto someone else to deal with.
But there’s a catch. (Isn’t there always?) Rideshare services do place some limitations on how you can use them – and at least when it comes to what you can take in the car with you.
Guns and Ridesharing
For people who like to keep a gun on them for protection, frequently go hunting, or like to head to the shooting range for regular practice, you should definitely think twice before selling your car. The main two ridesharing companies have clear policies on the subject.
The Uber Rule
Uber states clearly where it stands in their Firearm Prohibitions Policy: “Uber prohibits riders and drivers from carrying firearms of any kind in a vehicle while using our app.”
If Uber learns a driver or rider has broken this rule, they may revoke their access to the Uber app moving forward.
The Lyft Rule
Lyft takes it a step further with their strict “No Weapons” policy. According to Lyft’s rules, any driver or passenger who possesses a weapon while using Lyft “regardless of whether possession is legal where they are” will be banned from using Lyft.
The vague term here is “weapon,” which can mean different things to different people and can arguably make Lyft’s policy a hard one to enforce and follow. Would a woman carrying pepper spray in her purse be breaking the rules? What about a contractor who keeps a multi-tool that includes a knife amongst his supplies?
How Strict Are They?
Lyft’s ambiguity brings up a question many regular rideshare users and drivers may be wondering: how seriously should they take these rules? Some drivers in Texas have reacted to the rule against guns with skepticism that there could be any way for the companies to enforce it if they have a concealed carry license.
And then there’s the more obvious issue: how would they know? The nature of the independent contractor relationship rideshare companies are intent on maintaining with their drivers means that they have minimal direct oversight. No one is searching drivers’ cars before they start a shift to check for banned items.
So far, it seems that the rules are only enforced when an altercation of some sort forces the issue.
Lyft banned a driver for having a stun gun, but only after she pulled it out in response to an aggressive rider. And in forums and comment sections online, many drivers are speaking up to say they still carry their guns while giving rides through the apps and no one has made a move to challenge them for doing so, or even, it seems, noticed.
What Else Is Not Allowed in Your Uber?
So if you’re a gun owner, you now know you can’t bring a gun in an Uber or depend on Lyft for all your transportation needs (at least if you want to stay on the right side of their rules). Are there any other items Uber, Lyft and other rideshare companies prohibit drivers and riders bringing in their vehicles?
As it happens, pet owners – a sizeable portion of the population – also have cause for concern. While neither Lyft or Uber bans animals, rideshare drivers have the option of turning riders with pets away, unless they’re certified service animals. If you’re hoping to catch a ride to the vet or the dog park, we advise you call your driver as soon as they accept the ride to let them know you have an animal with you so you can learn ASAP whether or not they’re ok with giving you that ride. In such cases, you should allow yourself plenty of extra time to try to catch a rideshare with a pet, in case multiple drivers refuse. And your driver will appreciate it if you either keep your pet in a crate or bring a blanket along to help shield their car from animal hair.
And if you were hoping that you could turn to Lyft and Uber to help you out getting your teens around to their extracurricular activities or getting your kids to school in the morning, you’re out of luck. Both Lyft and Uber have rules against anyone under 18 either requesting or taking rides with drivers on the platform unless a guardian is present.
You can hand a lot of your transportation needs over to rideshare companies, but you can’t count on them for everything. If you own guns (or stun guns or pepper spray), have pets, or have kids, you may need to hang onto that car or figure out alternative transportation options that will work for you.