Uber launches Teen Accounts in SA

Sibahle Malinga
By Sibahle Malinga, ITWeb senior news journalist.
Johannesburg, 12 Apr 2024
Kagiso Khaole, GM of Uber Sub-Saharan Africa.
Kagiso Khaole, GM of Uber Sub-Saharan Africa.

Uber South Africa has introduced Uber Teen Accounts, a live trip-tracking service designed to help parents or guardians monitor their child’s location directly, and get regular status updates.

According to the e-hailer, the new feature allows parents and guardians to invite their teens (aged 13-17 years) and create a specialised Uber account that allows the teens to request their own rides with parental supervision and key safety features built into the travel experience.

Previously, Uber accounts could only be registered by users aged 18 and above.

Uber has been piloting the offering in various US states from last year and officially rolled it out in across the state of California last month.

Speaking at the launch in Johannesburg yesterday, Kagiso Khaole, GM of Uber Sub-Saharan Africa, said the new feature forms part of Uber’s safety services, which are aimed at helping parents feel more at ease and in control, when their teenagers need a ride.

“Teen accounts are built with transparency in mind so that there are no surprises for parents, teens, or drivers,” said Khaole.

“We’re thrilled to offer this innovative feature to families in South Africa, with key safety features built into the heart of the experience. Whether their teen is getting a ride to an internship or heading home after football practice, parents will receive real-time notifications and can follow along with live trip-tracking every step of the way. We’re committed to helping keep teens safe and getting families moving.”

Describing how it works, Uber says the first step is for a parent or guardian to invite their teen to create an account by sending a link to their phone. The teen will then receive the link to download the app, create their new teen account, and complete the mandatory safety on-boarding process. Following that, teens can start requesting trips on their own, with the parents having the ability to monitor the activities taking place on the teen account.

According to Khaole, only drivers who have passed local screening and background check requirements, and are highly-rated will be able to receive trip requests from teen account holders. Drivers can choose to opt-out of receiving teen trips at any time.

Safety features embedded into the Uber Teen Accounts include: live trip-tracking, audio recording, and PIN verification – which prompts the teen to give their driver a unique PIN upon entering the vehicle.

The teen accounts also have expanded communication, which allows parents and guardians to contact their teen’s driver at any time during a trip.

Through the RideCheck feature in the app, sensors and GPS data are used to detect if a ride goes off course, stops unexpectedly, or ends early. If something like this happens, the Uber app will message the teen and the driver to make sure they’re okay, says Uber.

“Drivers will not be able to start the trip until they enter the correct PIN code into their app, providing an extra layer of protection to ensure teens get into the right car with the right driver. Uber’s audio recording feature allows users to record audio of their trip directly through the app and saves files on the device, automatically encrypting them so that no one can listen back to the recording,” concludes Khaole.