Leading Chinese ride-hailing service Didi Chuxing is lowering its minimum passenger age from 18 to 16, allowing minors to ride without their parents’ supervision, the company announced Wednesday.
The policy shift comes just months after Didi said in October that it would prevent children under 18 from using the app, an announcement that came as a relief for safety-conscious parents.
But the restriction also made some youngsters who work or study away from home turn to illegal cab services, according to Didi.
“We don’t want to push already-independent minors toward more dangerous gray areas, because our policy requires all minors to travel with their parents,” the company explained in a statement.
A Didi WeChat poll in February seeking public opinions on age restrictions found that more than half of respondents favored allowing minors to hail a ride without adult accompaniment. In another poll, 80% of respondents agreed that minors over the age of 16 should be allowed to use ride-hailing apps without adult companions.
Chinese law allows children over the age of 8 to take taxis and public transportation alone.
Last year, two female passengers were murdered by drivers working for Didi’s Hitch carpool service. Didi then suspended Hitch at the government’s request, but hinted in July that it may resume the service with extra protections for vulnerable passengers.