We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

Taxis and Child Car Seats

Seattle
Level Contributor
291 posts
11 reviews
Save Topic
Taxis and Child Car Seats

There's been some discussion about this in the past, but I decided to get some clarification from the Hackney Unit of the Boston Police Department. In most areas of the United States kids have to use child safety seats when traveling in a car...except when they're in a taxi.

I couldn't find that same exemption in Massachusetts law. The law says that a taxi driver is exempt from the $25 fine that would usually be issued, but it never says that the kids are exempt from the law requiring them to be secured. I asked people in this forum, and some said that you don't need to use the safety seat, others weren't sure.

The response I got from the Hackney unit is that kids are NOT exempt when riding in a taxi or similar vehicle, and that the accompanying adult would be issued the citation. I can't speak to whether or not this is actually enforced, but that's what the law specifically states.

Needless to say, this is a huge headache for people traveling with toddlers. The most logical option is to use public transportation as often as possible, or rent a vehicle. My issue is that you can use public transportation, but sometimes you get stranded somewhere and it's not an option to use it on the way back. You're probably expected to just carry around the safety seat with you around town...oh well.

Boston
Destination Expert
for Boston
Level Contributor
16,819 posts
1 review
Save Reply
1. Re: Taxis and Child Car Seats

That is the law as we discovered in some of the recent posts. Not that I keep track or anything, but I suspect they don't enforce that law.

Boston...
Level Contributor
7,464 posts
Save Reply
2. Re: Taxis and Child Car Seats

This seems to me that taxis are still exempt from having car seat:

"An operator of a motor vehicle who violates the provisions of this section shall be subject to a fine of not more than twenty-five dollars; provided, however, that said twenty-five dollar fine shall not apply to an operator of a motor vehicle licensed as a taxi cab not equipped with a child passenger restraint device.

Massachusetts General Law » "

This is taken from the City of Boston website page: www.cityofboston.gov/police/about/faq.asp

Maybe you can ask whoever you were corresponding with at the Hackney unit to give you a citation if their information is different.

Seattle
Level Contributor
291 posts
11 reviews
Save Reply
3. Re: Taxis and Child Car Seats

That was the exact issue we were trying to clarify. The law clearly exempts the operator from receiving a fine if a kid isn't secured in one of the seats. However, the law does not exempt kids from having to use the safety seats. The officer in the Hackney Unit clarified that with me and said that per law the kid needs to be secured in all vehicles, personal and taxi. Also, like I mentioned above, the fine would be issued to the parent of the child, not the taxi operator.

In all reality this might be along the same lines as jaywalking. It's technically against the law, but probably not enforced very frequently.

Boston...
Level Contributor
7,464 posts
Save Reply
4. Re: Taxis and Child Car Seats

I'm not a judge or a lawyer, but the law seems to specifically exempt taxis. malegislature.gov/Laws/…Section7AA

You're saying the taxi driver won't be fined but the parent will be?

Seems highly unlikely to me, but anything can happen, I suppose, when people interpret the laws. But it does look to me as though taxis have an exemption. Maybe legal minds will weigh in here.

I assume the Hackney people are just covering their liability and not necessarily interpreting the law from a parent's point of view.

(Sometimes I wonder how any of us over a certain age made it to adulthood.)

Seattle
Level Contributor
291 posts
11 reviews
Save Reply
5. Re: Taxis and Child Car Seats

"The provisions of this section shall not apply to any such child who is: (1) riding as a passenger in a school bus; (2) riding as a passenger in a motor vehicle made before July first, nineteen hundred and sixty-six, that is not equipped with safety belts; (3) physically unable to use either a conventional child passenger restraint or a child restraint specifically designed for children with special needs; provided, however, that such condition is duly certified in writing by a physician who shall state the nature of the disability as well as the reasons such restraints are inappropriate; provided, further, that no such certifying physician shall be subject to liability in a civil action for the issuance of or for the failure to issue such certificate. An operator of a motor vehicle who violates the provisions of this section shall be subject to a fine of not more than twenty-five dollars; provided, however, that said twenty-five dollar fine shall not apply to an operator of a motor vehicle licensed as a taxi cab not equipped with a child passenger restraint device."

We're reading the same thing, but if Massachusetts wanted to allow kids to ride without the seats in a taxi they would have written it like they did with items 1 through 3. Instead they specifically mention that the operator of a taxi cab is exempt from the fine...that doesn't exempt the child from the requirement. It makes sense that the cab driver doesn't get stuck with the fine, it's not his fault and it's not his kid. Fining the accompanying adult seems within reason.

Here's the exact response I received "Yes – the adult guardian could be given the citation – yes a child of that age is required to be in safety seat. The driver is the individual exempted from the statute not the passengers." The contact this came from is Mark Fleming; FlemingM.bpd@ci.boston.ma.u.

Boston...
Level Contributor
7,464 posts
Save Reply
6. Re: Taxis and Child Car Seats

Well you have an answer. I guess I don't know what else you're asking, except for us to ask our legislators to write clearer laws. And you know how that goes . . . :)

The fact remains that if you're concerned about the child's safety, you'll bring a car seat no matter what the law.

Seattle
Level Contributor
291 posts
11 reviews
Save Reply
7. Re: Taxis and Child Car Seats

Not asking anything further, I just wanted to have a clear resource for people like myself that have questions about it. Massachusetts is very unique in this law and it could throw some people off.

Personally, I have mixed feelings about these kinds of laws. It's very easy to pry on parents' insecurities about their childrens' safety, and the companies that make these seats aren't in any hurry to help people rationalize their fears. The reason why most cities don't have these laws apply to taxis is because it's extremely impractical. The most reasonable laws I've seen require the seats to be used when the taxi uses a freeway, but they're not required within the city. Is it perfectly safe? No, but nothing is. The kid would be safest is we wheeled them around town in a helmet, steel cage, and foam padding on a furniture dolly, but that's not going to happen.

Boston...
Level Contributor
1,586 posts
2 reviews
Save Reply
8. Re: Taxis and Child Car Seats

As it has already been said, this is one of laws never enforced. No one is going to create liability for themselves and tell you this. The first time a cabbie is ticketed, all cabbies will refuse pickups with toddlers and infants, thus creating a nightmare.

The law has holes in, probably why it isn't enforce. The driver is usually ticketed for motor vehicle infractions.

Edited: 14 March 2013, 20:37
Seattle
Level Contributor
291 posts
11 reviews
Save Reply
9. Re: Taxis and Child Car Seats

Just got back from my trip, and I'd like to confess that I broke this law twice during my 4 days in Boston. Once was during the St Patrick's Day Parade. We took transit and walked to the route but got tired and cold towards the end. I pulled up my Uber app on my phone, ordered a black car, and we piled our family into a very comfortable Cadillac with dark tinted windows. My son was fast asleep, he never even knew what happened (probably won't testify against me). The second time was from the Museum of Science over to the USS Constitution. That was more out of laziness than necessity, but I didn't feel bad about it. The drivers never mentioned anything, we never broke 30 miles an hour, and everyone survived.

Boston...
Level Contributor
1,586 posts
2 reviews
Save Reply
10. Re: Taxis and Child Car Seats

Did this just turn out to be a plug for uber?