Over a month ago, Uber announced that it would update its app to increase passenger safety with features like allowing riders to call 911 easily in-app. Today, that feature went live and is operational in the U.S.
The button is located in a “safety center” menu that can be easily accessed from the app’s home screen. This way, it gives the passengers a quick way to contact first responders in case of emergency.
Dubbed the “panic button,” this new feature will allow riders to call 911 discretely. Passengers will only need to swipe up on the safety center icon and tap “911 assistance” in order to call 911. Once you confirm that you really meant to call 911, the call will be sent through.
Additionally, the safety center includes information about the driver screening process, insurance protections, and community guidelines, which emphasizes bad behaviors that can get you banned from Uber. The safety center is aimed at riders, not the drivers, but Sachin Kansal, Uber’s Director of Product Management, said that a similar button will be added for drivers as well.
Considering that a similar option has been available in India for years, the feature is long overdue in the U.S. Female passengers have complained about sexual assault and harassment from drivers, filing and winning lawsuits. The safety center and “panic button” should deter both passengers and drivers from exhibiting bad and harmful behavior. While there’s always more work to do, this is an encouraging first step by Uber to address it’s ever-increasing crisis of passenger safety.