Safety is a major concern of ridesharing services such as Uber and Lyft. In an attempt to make its riders feel more secure, Uber has added a direct method to call 911 via its app in the US. The company has tested the function out in India, but it's now live for everyone stateside. Additionally, these 911 calls will come with location tracking in select markets. These are both part of new Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi's initiative to improve the company's safety record.
The new panic button can be found in a new 'safety center' menu, which is opened via the home screen. The menu also contains information about the screening process for drivers, insurance, and community guidelines. Dialing 911 is accomplished by swiping up on the safety center icon, tapping "911 assistance," then confirming that the call is intentional to minimize accidental dials.
Uber has also announced a pilot for a few markets that automatically sends a rider's location and trip details to a 911 dispatcher when the panic button is used, which should help with 911 dispatchers' low chances of getting an accurate location reading from distress calls. It's being tested in Denver, Colorado; Charleston, South Carolina; Nashville, Tennessee; Chattanooga, Tennessee; and Naples, Florida.
The panic button is only live for riders right now, but drivers will get one soon as well. Khosrowshahi says that these features are "just the beginning" and that "this is going to be a real differentiator for [Uber]."
- The Verge