Uber has announced some upgrades for its Safety Toolkit. Among the new features is a way to get live help from an ADT safety agent via phone call or text in the US. The agent can monitor a trip, stay in contact with the user throughout the duration and, if necessary, contact 911 on their behalf. The agent can provide authorities with the make and model of the vehicle, the license plate number and its GPS location.
On a similar note, Uber is expanding its text-to-911 feature across more of the US. The app can automatically populate a text with details about the vehicle and the ride, including the destination and current location.
Uber debuted the feature in Los Angeles, Minnesota and Indiana in 2019. It will now be available in almost 60 percent of the country, including New York City and all of California, as 911 call centers in those areas can receive text messages. Uber plans to expand the option to more regions where the technology is supported.
In addition, Uber has revamped the Safety Toolkit menu. There are large icons that show all the available urgent help options, such as an emergency button. “Our goal is to streamline access to and visibility of our most critical safety features because in an emergency, every second counts,” the company said. Uber introduced the Safety Toolkit in 2018. Other safety features include the option to verify a ride with a PIN code and share the status of a trip with friends and family.
Giving riders and drivers more options for assistance is a welcome move, particularly given that Uber doesn’t exactly have a spotless safety record. The company’s most recent safety report, which was published in June and covers 2019 and 2020, notes that 99.9 percent of trips ended without a reported safety incident. However, there were 20 fatalities reported “in a total of 19 physical assault incidents in relation to Uber.”
There were also 3,824 reports of sexual assault, compared with nearly 6,000 in 2017 and 2018. The company says riders were the accused party 43 percent of the time in sexual assault reports in 2019 and 2020. In July, more than 500 women sued Uber, alleging that they were attacked by drivers.