After many voices raised concern over the safety of Uber riders, the company finally rolled out a few design features to enhance passenger safety.
All the updates will be deployed this summer in the U.S. and, if all goes well, they could get pushed worldwide.
The Uber app will get a safety center, a dedicated space where riders can get law enforcement tips, information about how drivers are selected and more valuable advice.
The Trusted Contacts features will allow users to pick five friends and family members that will receive their trip details. Riders won’t have to rely on a messaging app to tell people they got home safe, in this way. If only evening rides are of concern, clients will be able to set the Trusted Contacts notification just for night time sharing.
Perhaps the most simple but crucial new passenger safety feature in Uber is the inclusion of the 911 button. This emergency button will connect passengers directly to 911 and show authorities their real-time location, so dispatchers can access crucial info quick. The Uber 911 won’t be limited just to passengers – drivers should expect to see it, too. In selected regions, the 911 Integration Pilot feature will work with RapidSOS to directly share the passenger’s location with the authorities as soon as they dial 911.
As for how drivers are screened, Uber plans some improvements in that area too, like proactive background check reruns and faster reactions to reports.
“Uber will go beyond annual reruns and be among the first to invest in technology that rapidly identifies new offenses. Using data sources that cover most new criminal offenses, we will receive notifications when a driver is involved and leverage this information to help continuously enforce our screening standards. We will investigate and verify any potentially disqualifying information from public records, such as a new and pending charge for a DUI, to ensure the driver is still eligible to use Uber,” said the company.