LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — A Las Vegas rideshare driver says she recently turned down a fare for a young mother with an infant citing safety and a lack of child restraints but the decision sparked a heated debate online.
Ginny Bustelos' most important job is that of mother and grandmother. Bustelos is also an insurance agent by day and rideshare driver when she finds the time.
"You've got to get into the role," said Bustelos.
The rideshare role has put her in an uncomfortable spot when she had a recent encounter at McCarran International Airport.
"You don't see who you're picking up right away," Bustelos recalled.
"There's a sea of people waiting," she added.
Bustelos said she arrived at the designated pick-up spot and began to prepare her car for her soon-to-be passenger.
"There was a young mother with a six month old baby and no car seat," said Bustelos.
"I knew I was going to have an comfortable conversation with her," added Bustelos.
Moments later, Bustelos informed the mother that she was refusing the ride because safety was her priority.
"She basically rolled her eyes and walked away," recalled Bustelos.
"I said 'I'm not putting your baby in my car without a carseat,'" said Bustelos.
"I even said to her: aren't you worried about your baby being safe?'" added Bustelos.
The issue, it turns out, became a heated debate online after Bustelos -- still bothered by the situation-- posted about the child safety seat issue on several, private, social media groups for rideshare drivers.
"It got very nasty, because everyone wanted to be correct," said Bustelos.
Drivers on social media cited a number of laws that seemed to contradict each other, according to Bustelos.
Law enforcement agencies such as Las Vegas Metropolitan Police and the Nevada Highway Patrol tell 13 Action News an unrestrained child poses serious danger.
"I would like to see just a straightforward law that says, no taxis, no rideshares, no transportation whatsoever can take children that are under a certain weight limits where it could be dangerous for them to be in a moving vehicle," said Bustelos.
13 Action News first reported on the issue in a months long investigation that revealed many local rideshare drivers who had no problem taking an child without a safety seat.
As it turned out, they were well within their legal rights.
The investigation revealed, according to the Nevada Transportation Authority, rideshare vehicles are defined as taxi cabs and are therefore exempt from child restraint requirements.
"This is a liability right here, I mean they have unprotected children in their cars; they are projectiles if their parents are holding them," said Clark County Safe Kids President, Heather Waston.
Watson said seat belt safety is a top legislative priority when lawmakers return to session in February.
It remains to be seen if lawmakers, though, will clear up the confusion.
Lyft and Uber both recommend rideshare drivers to use child restraints in accordance with all local and state laws.