The Uber Technologies logo and website are displayed on an Apple iPhone 5s and laptop computer in this arranged photograph in Washington, D.C., on March 5, 2014. (Bloomberg photo by Andrew Harrer)

Uber will check in with riders and drivers if something seems off

Uber announced a slew of new safety features Wednesday intended to give both riders and drivers peace of mind when using the app.

The biggest change is a system called “Ride Check.”

Uber says it’s an extension of the GPS system that tracks riders and drivers within the app – only now, it will be leveraged to detect possible crashes and anomalies such as unusually long waits. The system will send an alert to both the rider and driver asking whether there’s an issue, and give them the option to contact authorities or reach Uber’s safety line.

Uber says the feature is tuned to “flag trip irregularities beyond crashes that might, in some rare cases, indicate an increased safety risk.”

It’s a proactive system designed to minimize crash response time and address fears for rider safety on an app where there have been numerous reports of violence and sexual assault.

The safety changes were announced Wednesday at a New York press event marking CEO Dara Khosrowshahi’s first anniversary with Uber. Khosrowshahi, who took over in the wake of repeated scandals and fears about Uber’s freewheeling approach to local regulations, has spent his first year trying to bolster the company’s safety credibility – with features like a 911 button, enhanced driver screening and timely follow-up on background checks.

“Today, we’re raising the bar on safety by unveiling new features that will help protect all our customers and the information they entrust to us,” Khosrowshahi said in a statement.

Other features Uber introduced Wednesday are aimed at making drivers less reliant on their handsets, including voice commands to allow for hands-free pickups and communication with customers. Uber says drivers can “can accept trips and communicate with customers using just their voice.”

Uber is also expanding a so-called panic button pilot to cities including Washington, Boston and San Diego. The company says riders and drivers can call 911 directly through the app, and doing so will automatically send location, license plate and car make and model information. Uber says drivers, too, will have access to the emergency button allowing them to contact authorities through the app.

Another tweak will alter the digital data trail left behind once a trip is completed. Instead of having access to users’ pickup and drop-off locations, Uber says, drivers will now see customers’ general pickup and drop-off areas in their trip logs – rather than actual addresses.

“[W]e’re further protecting riders’ information by concealing specific pickup and drop-off addresses in the driver’s trip history,” Uber said.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Kenney pledges $100M toward Red Deer hospital improvements

Premier Jason Kenney has committed $100 million toward improvements at Red Deer… Continue reading

RDC athlete apologizes for racist slur

A Red Deer College athlete has apologized for using a racial slur… Continue reading

Innisfail man killed in single-vehicle collision

RCMP said car hit a pole just northwest of Innisfail early on Wednesday

Sylvan Lake senior injured when ambulance gurney flips at Red Deer hospital

A Sylvan Lake senior suffered a number of injuries on her way… Continue reading

VIDEO: Grumpy sea lion resists help back to water in Washington state

Crews were able to coax her into a crate to carry her back to water

Your community calendar

Feb. 19 A Liberation of Holland event is being held at the… Continue reading

David Marsden: Finally, a healthy prognosis for our hospital

The announcement of $100 million toward improvements to Red Deer Regional Hospital… Continue reading

Police intervention in Kahnawake would be act of provocation, First Nation says

Protesters reinforced a rail blockade on the Kahnawake Mohawk territory south of… Continue reading

Alberta must juggle sluggish economy, big deficits, lost jobs in upcoming budget

EDMONTON — Alberta is to bring in its new budget Thursday while… Continue reading

Prepare for new coronavirus like an emergency, health minister advises

OTTAWA — Health Minister Patty Hajdu is encouraging Canadians to stockpile food… Continue reading

New Brunswick maintains position on abortions and Canada Health Act

FREDERICTON — The New Brunswick government is standing firm in its position… Continue reading

Bolder actions, words from protesters behind Quebec and Ontario rail blockades

Protesters behind rail blockades in Quebec and Ontario ramped up their actions… Continue reading

Most Read