Uber will now check in with you if it detects suspicious behaviour from your driver, as part of new measures to increase safety for users.
If the app detects a driver taking unusual routes or making prolonged stops, it will send a message to both the rider and the driver ‘to check if everything is OK’.
It will also check in with the rider and driver if a trip finishes in a location that isn’t the rider’s chosen destination.
A pop-up will automatically appear that gives the rider the chance to call for help – either by calling 999 or the Uber safety line.
The ridesharing giant wants to make passengers feel safer when they take a ride, following some high-profile cases involving drivers and passengers.
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If Uber detects unusual routes, prolonged stops or if a trip finishes in a different location to the destination, this pop-up automatically appears that gives the rider the chance to call for help – either by calling 999 or the Uber safety line
HOW DOES IT WORK?
The app will automatically send users a pop-up if it detects the following:
– A driver taking unusual routes
– A driver making prolonged stops
– When a trip finishes in a location that isn’t the rider’s chosen destination
The pop-up lets users call 999 or the Uber safety line.
In one case, an Uber driver was sentenced to death in 2019 for the rape and murder of British embassy worker Rebecca Dykes in Lebanon.
Last year, another Uber driver was found guilty of raping his female passenger during a trip in New Zealand.
Uber confirmed that the feature rolls out in the UK from Monday.
‘The safety of everyone who uses the Uber app is a top priority, which is why we have bolstered the safety features available on the Uber app,’ said Bex Xiao, head of community operations for Uber UK.
‘We know that when it comes to safety, our work is never done, which is why we will keep listening, learning and innovating.’
Uber users – either the driver or rider – are already able to flag that something is wrong on Uber using an Emergency Button, which is accessible by tapping the shield icon on their app’s map screen during a trip.
UBER BUSINESS MODEL ‘UNLAWFUL’: HIGH COURT
On Monday, the UK High Court declared Uber’s business model ‘unlawful’, which could trigger an overhaul of its UK operations.
It follows a Supreme Court ruling in February that declared Uber drivers were employees of Uber and are therefore entitled to benefits such as sick pay and minimum wage.
Uber has insisted that it is simply an ‘agent’ for drivers, but the High Court ruled this as unlawful on Monday.
When a rider or driver uses the in-app emergency button to call 999, the car’s make and model, license plate, and GPS location are made available.
A poll commissioned by Uber has found 70 per cent of women feel more safe when they’re in a vehicle that can be tracked on an app.
The YouGov poll of more than 2,298 women, carried out in November this year, also found 72 per cent of women feel their safety is protected when they’re using an app whose journey details can be shared with friends and family.
Uber has stressed that incidents involving its platform are part of a small minority.
In London, more than 99.9 per cent of trips between February and July this year passed without the rider reporting a safety issue, it says in a new report.
‘Our platform is not immune to the challenges faced by society as a whole, such as violence, verbal abuse or sexual assaults, as well as general trends around road safety and motor vehicle accidents,’ the report says.
‘Although safety incidents on our platform are extremely rare, we are clear that one incident is still one too many.’
The ridesharing giant wants to make passengers feel safer when they take a ride, following some high-profile cases involving drivers and passengers (stock image)
Uber also revealed earlier this month that it will launch an optional audio recording pilot program in three US cities to enhance safety.
The pilot will allow drivers and riders to send trip recordings to Uber in case of a safety incident.
Also on Monday, the UK High Court declared Uber’s business model ‘unlawful’, which could trigger an overhaul of its UK operations.
This follows a Supreme Court ruling in February that declared Uber drivers were employees of Uber – rather than simply an ‘agent’ for drivers, as Uber had insisted – and are therefore entitled to benefits such as sick pay and minimum wage.
Uber, which is headquartered in San Francisco, is currently operating in the UK thanks to an 18-month licence extension granted by the courts in September 2020.
The ridesharing firm has had a torrid time getting approval from Transport for London (TfL) to operate on a long-term basis. TfL has previously cited passenger safety among the issues with the platform.
UBER TO TEST AUDIO RECORDING SAFETY FEATURE IN THE US
Uber said on December 2 that it will launch an optional audio recording pilot program in three US cities to enhance safety, allowing drivers and riders to send trip recordings to Uber in case of a safety incident.
Uber at the end of 2019 disclosed it had received 6,000 reports of sexual assault and 107 road fatalities related to 2.3 billion US trips in 2017 and 2018.
The recording feature is intended to provide drivers and riders with added security if they feel uncomfortable and allow users to submit proof of how a situation unfolded, Uber said.
The audio recording feature was launched in Latin America two years ago and is available in 14 countries in the region, but will roll out in the US for the first time.
Launching in Kansas City, Missouri, Louisville, Kentucky and Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina later this month, drivers and riders will be able to opt into audio recording for individual trips through the Uber app.
Riders are alerted to drivers potentially recording a trip via an in-app banner and can cancel if they are uncomfortable, Uber said.
Uber Vice President of Product Management Sachin Kansal said the company has applied lessons learned in Latin America to ensure privacy, transparency and convenience.
Encrypted recordings are stored in the Uber app and users are not able to play them, Kansal said. If a safety incident occurs, users filing a safety report can send the recording to qualified Uber staff who are able to decrypt it, Kansal said.
‘We expect that people will be very accepting of this feature,’ Kansal said. ‘As we learn from those cities and get feedback, we can expand it further.’
Uttara Sivaram, Uber’s senior manager of public policy, said the company would initially focus the recording feature on US jurisdictions with one party consent laws.