OPINION — At Uber, our safety team has a simple, critical mission: to help set the standard for ridesharing safety. We know that every time riders open their Uber app, they are putting their trust in us — to not only get where they need to go, but to get there safely. Local and federal policymakers have proposed solutions to enhance ridesharing safety, and Uber is committed to working with them to identify the solutions that are best suited for our riders and our driver partners.
Over the past three years, we’ve introduced new safety features, including an in-app emergency button; strengthened our driver background check and screening processes; and made investments in new technologies to help improve the safety of the platform. In fact, we’ve developed more safety features in the past couple of years than we did in the previous eight. And that’s just the start of our commitment to safety.
Recently, we announced multiple new safety features designed to bolster rider safety in a number of scenarios that, while rare, may require additional support. Beginning with select markets, Uber riders no longer have to wait until after getting out of the car to report a problem to Uber. Soon, riders will have an On-Trip Reporting option in their Safety Toolkit that will let them report a non-emergency safety issue during their trip.
To help make sure riders are connected with the right driver — beyond verifying the license plate, car and driver information they receive — users can soon choose to receive a unique 4-digit PIN to verbally provide to the driver. From there, the driver will only be able to start the ride once the correct PIN has been entered. We’re also developing new technology that will use ultrasound waves to automatically verify that a rider is in the right car, no PIN needed.
Securing the verification process is one component, but riders should feel safe for the entirety of their rideshare, no matter the conditions. That’s why we built in-app safety tools to allow riders and drivers in select cities to text 911 in the case of emergency. With this feature, a text will automatically be drafted that includes trip details like the car’s make and model, license plate, and location to help 911 operators respond quickly. Currently, if a rider calls 911 from the Uber app, the app displays the live location and trip details so it can be shared with the emergency dispatcher. Furthermore, Uber has partnered with RapidSOS to pilot 911 integration with local emergency authorities. This feature is available in more than 250 cities and counties in the United States. If users are in a participating area, the app will indicate that the trip information is automatically shared with 911.
These new innovations in rideshare safety from Uber complement the features that we’ve already put in place to help make safer journeys for everyone. All Uber driver partners go through both a motor vehicle and criminal background check before they are allowed to take their first trip. Uber rescreens drivers every year and uses continuous monitoring technology to look for issues that may arise in between. And support is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to address any safety issues. All trips are GPS-tracked, and riders and drivers can share each trip information with family and loved ones. Finally, we work to protect personal details you provide when using Uber. We use technology to help keep phone numbers private, to help prevent drivers and riders from seeing each other’s numbers when communicating through the Uber app.
At Uber, you’ll never hear us say that we’ve done enough on safety. From providing more ways users can report issues to Uber, to using technology to help ensure riders are getting into the right car, to giving riders and drivers more options to get help in an emergency through text to 911, we are once again raising the bar. We share Congress’ focus on keeping Americans safe on rideshare too. Safety will always be a long-term commitment for us. We take seriously our responsibility to riders and drivers, to make sure that when you request a trip using the Uber app, or pick up a passenger, you don’t think twice.
Danielle Burr is the head of federal affairs at Uber.