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Travel with Child in a Taxi

traveling 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.

RideSafer travel car seat

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 this post.)

One 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 2019 Safe Ride 4 Kids. All rights reserved. You may not publish, broadcast, rewrite or redistribute this material without permission. You are welcome to link to Safe Ride 4 Kids or share on social media.

We originally published this post in May 2016. We updated the article for accuracy and comprehensiveness.


  1. 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.

  2. 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

    1. 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.

  3. 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.

    1. 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.

  4. 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

    1. 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?

  5. Hi, what are your current recommendations for a portable toddler car seat (age 20 months – over 2 years)? We are an urban car-less family, but travel by uber around 2x per week and for long distances ( 1 hour) and air travel a couple of times a year. Our youngest is outgrowing her infant seat, and we need a replacement that can be carried around or placed into a stroller-type thing. As I inderstand, she should still be rear-facing well into her third year? Gratefull for any input on what’s currently available ( we had used a sit-and-stroll for our older kids).

    1. Boy, you are in the tough in between stage. We used to recommend the Sit ‘n Stroll but it is not available at this time. And to keep her rear-facing, you’re not quite ready for the Immi Go — a good option when she does turn, if she turns before 3, otherwise just go with the even lighter, easier to carry RideSafer vest. For now, the best you can do is a lightweight convertible seat. Car Seats for the Littles has a list here.

  6. Hi,
    We will be traveling to Mexico with a 4 month old & will be riding a bus for the majority of the road travel, but will be in a taxi from the airport to the bus station- which would be less than 20minutes each way. Because it will be such a short amount of time in a car- the really amazing, but expensive Doona car seat seems a little out of our range. I saw a previous post of someone also traveling with a 4 month old and the links you provided.
    I was lookin at some of the light weight, rear facing car seats included in the link, but I’m not sure if those would provide enough head support for a 4 month old (15 lbs and 25.5 inches long). Would you be able to recommend any specific ones for our needs?

    Thank you! Your help is very appreciated!

    1. Do you use an infant carrier child restraint now? For a 4 month old, the easiest thing we’ve found is to use our normal infant carrier for travel, just without the base. You can install just the infant carrier using the seat belt on both the airplane and in the car. Instructions should be in your manual. Here is a video showing how to install a carrier without the base.

  7. Hi, Something useful for parents if they are travelling to and from London with children, Getting around in the London City with children can be a hassle, but it has become easier and safer since the cabhit taxi cab price comparison app launched a free child seat service

  8. You can buy a cosco scenera next convertible carseat and it will fit into the seat of many full size strollers. Strap the baby into the carseat and strap the carseat to the stroller

  9. Could you please advise what to do in countries where cars do not have rear seat belts fitted (or if fitted, not accessible)? We are heading to the Middle East to visit family and it is extraordinarily uncommon for anyone, adult or child to use rear seat belts as they are just not present to be used. What can one do in this scenario? We don’t use cars even in the UK, so I have next to no experience, but I understand that even a full car seat operates with seat belts.

    1. Hi Sarah, Unfortunately that is a situation for which there is no safe solution. If there are no seat belts (and therefore we would assume no LATCH system), there is no way to properly restrain adults or children in child restraints.

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