- Pablo Blazquez Dominguez / Getty
- Uber rolled out an in-app safety feature that allows passengers to share their ride’s exact location and vehicle information with the police in case of an emergency.
- Until now, the alternatives were to share ride information with a friend or call 911 if something went wrong; the new feature doesn’t necessitate a middle man.
- Recent reports of rape and assault involving Uber rides have pushed the company to take safety matters more seriously – and since both parties are at risk, Uber plans to release a similar version for drivers this summer.
On Tuesday, Uber rolled out an in-app safety feature that allows passengers to share their car’s exact location, make, model, and license plate number with emergency responders with the tap of a button.
In most cities, the emergency button – located in the new “safety center” that appears in the bottom right-hand corner during a trip – will display the ride information and then connect passengers to dispatchers so they can relay the information verbally. But Uber is also testing automatic-sharing in six pilot markets, so passengers can share information with dispatchers via the app and avoid the risk of talking aloud.
Uber has been under pressure to take safety matters more seriously following multiple allegations of rape and assault cases involving Uber rides. Existing features clearly needed to be updated, so CEO Dara Khosrowshahi shared a plan last month outlining ways that Uber is “getting serious about safety,” including features like this emergency button.
Before Tuesday’s update, a passenger’s alternatives involved either calling 911 and recalling information about their ride after a crisis, or using the in-app option to share location with a contact during the course of a ride. With the latter method, the contact could track the ride’s status and alert authorities if something looked like it’s going wrong, or the rider could alert their contact that they need help.
But this update means passengers don’t have to rely on a middle man, and – as long as all goes well in the test markets and dispatchers are able to promptly respond – might be able to avoid having to pick up a phone and make a call.
Since drivers run a similar risk, Uber plans to roll out a similar option for drivers later this summer.