Travel with Child in a Taxi

Do you live in a big city or travel and ride with your child in a taxi?

This is for all the parents who transport their child in a taxi, car service or ride share where you don’t want to haul your car seat along with you. In big cities like New York and Singapore, this is how parents get around.

We’ve heard from a couple of customers that were even advised by their doctor to do some things that were potentially unsafe for their child. (Read more crazy things CPS techs have been told doctors say in last week’s post.)

travel with child in a taxiOne of the such thing parents do is put their child in their lap and buckle the seat belt on top of both of them. This is a really dangerous thing to do.

Why is this dangerous?

The equation to determine restraining force is speed x weight. For instance, I am about 200 pounds so if I was in a 10 mph crash, it will require 2,000 lbs of force on this seat belt to restrain me and hold me from moving forward.

If a child were on my lap between me and the seat belt, he’s going to have to absorb all 2,000 lbs of me trying to move forward with the seat belt holding us back. This is extremely dangerous and potentially fatal for a young person restrained between the seat belt and parent.

So how do you travel with your child in a taxi safely?

Worst scenario, you would put the child in the vehicle seat next to you and buckle him up.

How can you do this legally? In most cities, taxis and car services are exempt from the state’s child restraint law (but often not ride share services). This doesn’t make it safe but it is safer than the child riding in an adult’s lap.

Ideally you want the child to be in a restraint system so he is getting optimum protection regardless of what the law says. The laws of physics don’t change regardless of what type of vehicle you are in.

The number one purpose of the seat belt is to keep occupants in the vehicle. With this scenario of the child in the vehicle seat and buckled on his own, you are at least achieving that.

The second principle is to contact the strongest points of the body. A seat belt should contact the hips and the shoulder. A seat belt does not properly do that on a small child. Plus if the shoulder portion is high on the neck it may cause discomfort, making the child want to put it behind them or under their arm. This then makes the seat belt become a lap-only belt which is extremely dangerous for a young child’s stomach organs.

Being buckled on the vehicle seat is better than being buckled with an adult or not being buckled at all.

Another option provides safety along with convenience is using a Ride Safer Travel Vest. This is a certified child restraint for children 3 years old and up that is easy to transport. You can carry it in a backpack and pull it out when you are ready to get into a taxi with your child.

We want to know, do you ride in a taxi with a child? Share your comments below.

By Greg Durocher, CEO at Safe Ride 4 Kids and certified CPS Technician Instructor since 2002

Copyright 2016 Safe Ride 4 Kids. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

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8 Comments
  • Taylor Bishop
    Posted at 07:01h, 07 August Reply

    Thanks for explaining some tricks for safety when driving in a taxi with a kid. It’s interesting to thing that being buckled on the vehicle seat is better for a child that being buckled with an adult. This definitely sounds like some good advice for parents who travel often with smaller kids. I’d be interested in hearing some stories from them and how they go about to make sure that their child is safe.

  • Yellow Cab DFW
    Posted at 11:27h, 02 November Reply

    Thank you for the article. It helps a lot. Great content.

  • Tiffany Thomas
    Posted at 12:19h, 08 November Reply

    Can you tell me if having a toddler in a baby carrier like a Lillebaby is an option? I’d have the seat belt on between me and the child, not around us.

    In my mind I feel like she’d be more secure at 22 months that way than buckled into the taxi next to me with only a lap belt (she’s too short for a shoulder belt)

    Please let me know as we’re going on a trip in two months

    • Amie
      Posted at 14:00h, 08 November Reply

      We would not consider it a safe option. A major concern would be during a fast stop or sudden crash, the child’s head would fling back at such a speed that it would hyper extend the neck, causing internal decapitation. Also as a fabric carrier, the carrier itself would probably act like the illegal “child restraints” shown in this video where it just comes apart.

      The safest option for an 22 month old is to use a rear-facing car seat, until the child is at least 2 years old. We realize while traveling this can be very inconvenient. If this is the option you choose, there are very inexpensive, lightweight convertible seats that make travel easier. This is what we did when our children required rear-facing while traveling. We bought an inexpensive, lightweight seat for travel and left our nice one in our car at home ready for our return.

      If your child outgrows the rear facing seat before then, the Immi Go may be a good option until your child can use a RideSafer vest. The RideSafer will be easier to carry for Uber rides and taxis once your child is big enough to use it at age 3 and 30 pounds.

  • Sharon
    Posted at 13:08h, 17 December Reply

    I often wonder about school coaches,what is the safest option? The coaches have adult belts but often the coaches pick up 4 year olds. Is it the safest option to make it like a lap belt? The adult restraint is too high and goes over face neck etc.

    • Amie
      Posted at 10:50h, 18 December Reply

      The safest option is for the coach to have a proper car seat or a belt positioning device like a RideSafer vest or booster for each child. It is not safe for the child to ride with the shoulder portion behind them. Using just a lap belt for a child that size can cause a lot of internal abdominal injury. We would recommend parents not allowing coaches to drive their children if they do not have a way to properly restrain the children.

  • Rachel C
    Posted at 01:57h, 08 August Reply

    A useful read! Would be the safest option for a 4 month old baby be a baby carrier? I read gherkin comment above about the head flinging back, but if it has a head support would that be better? If not, what would be the safest option if it’s impossible to bring a car seat? Many thanks

    • Amie
      Posted at 07:06h, 08 August Reply

      The only safe way to transport a 4 month old is in a rear-facing car seat.

      It would be a irresponsible for us to even suggest that there is another option or a less dangerous way to NOT use a car seat. If the child is between the adult and the seat belt they will likely be crushed. If the adult is holding them in their arms they will fly out of the arms and become a projectile. Even if the baby is in a baby carrier with some sort of, likely cloth, head support, the baby is likely to come out of the carrier when experiencing crash forces.

      The formula (estimated) for Restraining Force = Speed X Weight. example 20mph X 10kg baby = 200kg restraining force… who can hold 200kg? What if the crash is 30mph? 300kg? No human. Is a cloth carrier able to hold 200kg- 1000kg? How would we know? What will happen to baby’s neck or head? We do not know… The closest example we have are the cloth “car seats” (which are illegal as they are not certified and more importantly not safe in a car crash) that we can see just come apart in this video.

      Find a way to use a car seat. As we share in our ride sharing post sing a rear-facing infant carrier car seat with just the seat not the base would be the most convenient. You are allowed to install those seats without a base. You may also consider using a Doona Infant Car Seat as it has a stroller built in to the infant carrier. Or find a different way to get there that does not involve a taxi etc… Friend’s car, bus, subway, walk?

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