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Towards the end of February, Uber released a new feature, which allows drivers to report small scale incidents, which don’t qualify as emergencies. The release comes after the company’s first safety report, which had some alarming results. Riders and drivers were experiencing similar rates of attacks during rides.
In 2018, Uber included a panic button within the app, which directly calls 911 so the rider and driver can have help as quickly as possible. Not every incident requires the police, so Uber has just released a new way for riders to let the company know, without leaving the app, about any problems they have with the driver. The complaints may range anywhere from harsh braking, the lack of a phone mount to inappropriate comments or lewd acts. Although these are possible uses for the apps’ new feature, Uber will likely receive a wide range of critiques from riders.
Uber’s safety report showed nine people were murdered during rides and fifty-eight were killed in car accidents in 2018. There were also 3,045 sexual assaults during rides that year. These incidents are shocking and eye opening. Uber is hoping the inclusion of the feature will alert the company to any dangerous drivers before these events happen. Riders are not the only people being affected by assault and attack during rides; drivers report incidents at a similar rate to riders, which means the problem goes both ways.
Riders have a lot of power within the app due to the rating system. A bad rating can hurt a driver or even prevent them from continuing as an Uber driver. This new feature gives the riders even more power, but the hope is riders will not abuse the feature and only use it to alert the company to harmful or potentially dangerous behavior by drivers.
It is impossible to completely limit danger and risk, but the inclusion of this feature is aimed at reducing incidents to as low a rate as possible to ensure rider and driver safety while on the road. The feature is still very new, so there is no data to show how effective it has been.