If you don’t happen to own a car or find yourself using ride-sharing apps often, you’d probably be familiar with Uber. While the taxi-like service is widely used amongst those who prefer to use ride-sharing apps, it has had its fair share of bad press since its inception in 2009. The company recently announced in New York City at an unveiling of its upcoming new features, that it aims to make safety a number one priority.
According to an article by the Associated Press, Uber has plans to roll out a new safety feature within the app to reach out to passengers as well as drivers if it detects an auto accident or even an unexpected stop. Hands-free features will also be available to drivers so they can pick up new passengers without the need to touch or pick-up their phones.
Uber has plans to utilize location data in order to pinpoint unusual stops due to a lack of traffic or if a ride hasn’t made it to its final destination. In fact, in the event there is a long, unexpected stop during a trip, both the passenger and driver will receive notifications asking if everything is ok. The company has also included app functionality where drivers can contact emergency services if needed. Uber says this will be more efficient than calling 911 as the app contains the exact location of the driver and the passenger.
Uber’s CEO, Dara Khosrowshahi has high hopes for these new additions to the app stating, “this is just the beginning of the journey for Uber,” and, “we want Uber to be the safest transportation platform on the planet.”
Moving forward, Uber also plans to conceal the specific pick-up and drop-off locations from the driver’s trip history. This way, only the general area where a trip has started or ended will appear rather than an actual address the passenger has provided.
These new safety measures are in response to a wave of massive scandals the company has faced since 2009. Uber has been bombarded by reports of drivers confronting passengers—including lawsuits alleging sexual assault. In 2017, the company was fined $8.9 million by the state of Colorado for allowing people with serious criminal backgrounds, including felonies, to work as Uber drivers. The Public Utilities Commission found nearly 60 people were allowed to drive in the state despite having these convictions, which included drunk driving.
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