CNN Business has published an article detailing Uber’s latest safety feature for riders which allows someone to connect with a safety agent while making a trip. In an attempt to address safety concerns, Uber states that the purpose of the new capability is to help both riders or drivers in nervous situations that may no warrant calling the police or other emergency services. Instead, the function will connect riders or drivers to a live safety agent from the security services company ADT, who can monitor the route for the duration of the trip.
Examples citied include drivers dealing with customers not following Uber policies, running out of gas, or riders traveling in a place they are unfamiliar with that may make them uncomfortable. When utilized, the rider or driver can communicate with an ADT agent via text or phone, and should the situation escalate, 911 can be contacted. Realtime trip information including the vehicle’s license plate number and GPS location will be accessible to ADT once a user chooses to connect with an agent.
The partnership with ADT featuring a live-agent has been offered by Lyft since 2020, and the announcement comes as part of a wider safety update to Uber’s services. Other safety features include a redesigned “toolkit” that makes it easier to share trip information with friends or family. In order to verify a passenger is taking the correct vehicle, there is also a four-digit pin code that must be verbally provided to the driver.
While a step in the right direction towards rider safety, Uber still lags behind what the team at Estey & Bomberger consider the minimum standards to ensure rider safety. Uber states rider safety is a top priority for the company, but in our client’s experience, that is simply not the case.
Sexual assaults by drivers on passengers continues to be a persistent problem. Between 2017 and 2018, Uber disclosed that it received 5,981 reports of sexual assault. In 2019 and 2020, Uber reported 3,824 reports of sexual assault. While on the surface, that may seem like an improvement, it is important to keep in mind the 2020 was the height of the pandemic, and ridership had taken a sharp decline.