On the heels of the rape and murder of a Didi ride-hailing passenger in China, Uber has announced some new features to ensure safety for both the passenger and the driver. The first is what Uber calls Ride Check, which activates if the driver’s smartphone senses a possible crash. Ride Check will also activate if the GPS sensor in the driver’s phone notices there’s an abnormally long or unexpected stop during the trip.
“They can let us know through the app that all is well, or take other actions like using the emergency button or reporting the issue to Uber’s critical safety line,” Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi wrote in a blog post today. “We expect to expand this technology to additional scenarios in the future.”
Additionally, Uber is no longer requiring drivers to fiddle with their phones at the beginning and end of the trip. Considering hands-free driving laws in numerous states, this probably should’ve come sooner. But hey, better late than never. Now, Uber drivers can just use their voices to accept trips and communicate with passengers if they’re trying to find them.
Another concern among passengers is the fact that drivers have access to their pickup and drop-off locations after they’ve left the car. Now, Uber is starting to conceal specific pickup and drop-off addresses in the driver’s trip history. Moving forward, the driver app will only show the general area where the trip started and ended.
Other new features include two-step verification for your account, an insurance hub in the driver app and an expansion of Uber’s 911 integration pilot into additional cities.
“You can expect to see these features in your app over the coming months, and there’s more to come,” Khosrowshahi wrote. “That’s because when it comes to safety, our work is never done. Uber has a responsibility to help keep people safe, and it’s one we take seriously. We want you to have peace of mind every time you use Uber, and hope these features make it clear that we’ve got your back.”
I’m chatting with Khosrowshahi at Disrupt SF tomorrow, so be sure to tune in.