In late 2018, after three years at home with her two young children, Rebecca Lock received a coveted job offer to return to a career she loved as a reality and documentary TV producer. With one element of help, someone to get her kids to and from school and their activities, her family’s life could continue seamlessly, despite the return to work.

However, after an extensive search, she could not find anyone to do these short, nearby drives for her children, despite a willingness to pay well.

With no options, Rebecca was forced to turn down the job, effectively, she knew, ending her career. Shocked and devastated, she looked into the problem and realized how enormous this plight is for working families.

The impact, especially affecting working moms and their children, was generational and dire. The market was enormous and almost fully unmet. Rebecca, often with her children in tow, got behind the wheel and did 800+ test drives for northern NJ families, working closely with them to understand this problem and to develop a viable solution.

Ultimately, in mid-2022, Lock launched Kidcaboo Driving Nannies, an Uber-like app used by parents and drivers to coordinate rides for children. A parent downloads the app and fills out information about their child — medical needs, likes and dislikes, personality info and so on. They can then schedule rides with a screened and safety-checked driver, where they’ll receive a one-off fare estimate for the trip. The parent’s app allows them to track the driver’s GPS location at all times.

However, today, New Jersey gave a firm "no way" to the program.

Operating such a program requires obtaining a Transportation Network Company (TNC) license from the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission (MVC).

On June 21, 2022, MVC issued a final agency decision denying Kidcaboo's application for a TNC permit.

In denying Kidcaboo's permit application, NJMVC determined, among other reasons: (1) Kidcaboo's business model does not meet the statutory definition of a TNC because the law contemplates that the TNC 'rider' is the same person that logs onto the digital network to request a ride and under Kidcaboo's proposed business model, the person using the digital network to request the ride is different from the person who actually receives the ride; (2) the protections provided in the Act, and Sami's Law, must be available to the riders and an unaccompanied minor is unable to implement the precautions, leaving "the youngest of the State's residents vulnerable to the dangers the Legislature was trying to prevent"; and (3) Kidcaboo's proposal, to transport children to and from school, renders the Kidcaboo vehicles "school buses," under N.J.S.A. 39:1-1, and Kidcaboo drivers and their vehicles do not comply with the applicable statutes and regulations.

Appellate Division Judges Enright and Paganelli today affirmed this decision, writing:

NJMVC interprets the ACT to prohibit splitting the roles of a ride requester and the actual rider. NJMVC contends that the ACT only "refers to 'a ride requested by a rider' [and] 'a requesting rider'; and it never refers to a 'user' or a person requesting a ride for another person, N.J.S.A. 39:5H-2." Therefore, NJMVC argues that since Kidcaboo "seeks to separate the prearranged ride (which would be received by the minor rider) from everything else (which would be handled by the rider's parents or guardian)," Kidcaboo's permit application must be denied because its planned operation would be contrary to the statute.

Kidcaboo argues that the "conclusion that only the person who accesses a TNC digital network to schedule a prearranged ride can be a rider is misguided, unjustified, and contrary to New Jersey's rules of statutory construction, N.J.S.A. 1:1-1 which require[s] that 'words and phrases shall be read and construed with their context and . . . given their generally accepted meaning, according to the approved usage of the language.'"

According to N.J.S.A. 39:5H-2, a "prearranged ride" means: 

[T]he provision of transportation by a [TNC] driver to a [TNC] rider, beginning when a driver accepts a ride requested by a rider through a digital network controlled by a [TNC], continuing while the driver transports a requesting rider, and ending when the last requesting rider departs from the personal vehicle. . . . 

The statute, specifically in three unmistakable places, provides that the rider and the requester must be one and the same. The legislative language allows for no other interpretation. Since Kidcaboo's proposed business plan splits or separates the ride requester from the rider, it is contrary to the statute and, therefore, the NJMVC appropriately denied the application for a TNC permit.


The statutory interpretation of a "prearranged ride" must be conducted in context with the Legislature's goal of protecting, in the matter at bar, unaccompanied minor riders, ages five to seventeen. The analysis logically includes whether the unaccompanied minor can effectively, if at all, implement the statutory protections.

The statutory protections include: (1) that "[a TNC] shall provide to a rider on its app a picture of the driver that is to provide the prearranged ride and the license plate number of the driver's personal vehicle that is to be used to provide the prearranged ride prior to the rider entering the driver's personal vehicle," N.J.S.A. 39:5H-8; (2) the ability "to report a complaint about a driver of a prearranged ride suspected of driving under the influence of a controlled dangerous substance or alcohol," N.J.S.A. 39:5H-14(b); (3) a "two[-]dimensional barcode or other machine-readable code or image . . . capable of being scanned by a rider to confirm the identity of the driver of a prearranged ride and the personal vehicle that is to be used to provide the prearranged ride," N.J.S.A. 39:5H-23(c); and (4) a "display [of] credential placards on the driver and passenger side rear windows of the driver's personal vehicle at all times while the driver is . . . providing a prearranged ride," N.J.S.A. 39:5H-23(d)(2). 

In addition to complying with these statutory protections, Kidcaboo offers its own safety enhancements: a "Kidcaboo shirt"; "code word"; "GPS monitoring availability to parents"; and Kidcaboo's own GPS monitoring and dual-facing dash cams. 

Nonetheless, NJMVC explains that: 

While Kidcaboo users would receive information about Kidcaboo drivers, they would not be physically present to use this information to protect minor riders. Forwarding this information to minor riders, who would have to protect themselves, would be problematic. Nothing in the record indicates that all 

minor riders would have smart phones (and know how to use them). Nor does the record support the ability of all minor riders to match the Kidcaboo driver's license plate and photograph, to check the driver's credential placard, to scan the driver's barcode, to figure out that a Kidcaboo shirt is genuine, or to use a code word. Even adult riders make mistakes about TNC drivers and have been harmed. As for the ride itself, GPS tracking does not (and dash cams may not) show what is happening inside the vehicle as it travels, dash cam video may not be monitored properly, and minor riders are unlikely to be able to evaluate whether the driver is impaired and, if so, to report the driver immediately. 

Kidcaboo argues that the NJMVC's reasoning is "equivocal," "absolutely baseless," "profoundly inaccurate" and "totally baseless." Kidcaboo avers that its "safety protocols are every bit as strict as those prescribed by the [ACT]" and that it is "more cautious than statutorily required." Further, Kidcaboo argues that "the inference that a parent/guardian sufficiently concerned about their child to prearrange and pay for rides to school and after-school activities for their child would fail to avail themselves of and benefit from Kidcaboo's safety protocols to assure the maximum protection for their children is specious." 

However, absent from Kidcaboo's analysis is how the unaccompanied minor, as young as five years old, could or would effectively implement the statutory protections. 

We view Kidcaboo's arguments as a plea for us to substitute our own judgment for the agency's. We decline that invitation. "It is well-established that a reviewing court must be mindful of, and deferential to, the agency's expertise and superior knowledge of a particular field." Malzberg, quoting Circus Liquors. In offering that deference, we find no error in NJMVC's denial of the TNC permit. Kidcaboo has failed to sustain its burden to demonstrate grounds for reversal, the Appellate judges stated.

Kidcaboo previously stated, "many of our clients have no children's transportation option to allow them to return to work. Our Driving Nannies do not have this safe, flexible, well-paying work option to make extra income. Our clients and drivers in NJ want and need to return to work. Governor Murphy supports female founders and innovation for New Jersey. He wonders why tech companies do not keep their business in the state."

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