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Uber upgrades safety features

By Alina Hardcastle

After numerous safety concerns, the ridesharing app, Uber, has announced that they are undergoing numerous security updates to ensure the safety of both passengers and drivers.

The cab hailing service faced scrutiny after a woman was kidnapped and raped after getting into what she thought to be an Uber taxi outside of Montecasino in Fourways, Johannesburg.

Following the incident, the team have not only brought on a board a new head of security but have announced the following improvements: 

  • Colour tracking: In addition to the driver image, vehicle type and licence plate, riders across South Africa will see the colour of the vehicle when they request a ride. This is a phased roll out and not everyone will see this right away as Uber are testing different groups and user preferences. The vehicle colour will feature next to the vehicle's license plate, for example: GG 257 YT GP (Red). This is the first step in introducing this feature across Sub Saharan Africa and will go a long way to help ensure riders get in the correct vehicle with the correct driver-partner.
  • SOS button: Uber is also launching the trial of an in-vehicle SOS button in Johannesburg. During the pilot, SOS buttons will be installed into select partner vehicles and linked to Uber’s central security system. The security team will monitor the devices 24 hours a day, seven days a week. This update will allow driver-partners to connect to a broad base of emergency services and receive advice in a critical situation. Should the pilot prove useful this feature could be introduced to the other cities across South Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa.

Assisting drivers

Uber’s team of engineers have also been working on the following updates to increase road safety across Uber cities in Sub-Saharan Africa, these include: 

  • Drivers will receive weekly reports about their driving patterns and how they compare to other drivers in their city. The report will also include suggestions on how to provide a smoother and safer ride.
  • A speed display will appear in the app. This will alert drivers to the speed of their vehicle.
  • Drivers will receive messages in the app, informing drivers that mounting their phone on the dashboard is safer than having it on their laps or in their hands.
  • Reminders will be sent to drivers to highlight the importance of taking a break when needed.

With the latest features and security updates, Uber is aiming to helping one million women around the world make the most of the opportunities from driving with Uber by 2020. The online platform said, “Our passion for fostering empowered women in the industry is reflected in the increasing number of women drivers using Uber each year. We look forward to an increasingly diverse, inclusive transport industry that benefits everyone."

David Myers, head of trust and safety for Uber Middle East and Africa, concluded, “We are committed to the safety of everyone who uses Uber. Every day we strive to do better, which is why are continually looking at ways to improve safety before, during and after every ride.”

For more about how to ensure you safety with Uber, click here.


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