Jamie Kim / Gavel Media

Uber Adds 911 Button to Safety Options

In the past few years, Uber has managed to monopolize the ride-share business. The phrase “my Uber is here” has made it into song lyrics, been printed on shirts, and been used in a variety of different “memes." While the popularization and availability of Ubers has made life more convenient, a multitude of safety concerns lie beneath the trendiness of this app.

Uber drivers all over the country are facing a slew of kidnapping, sexual assault, and sexual harrassment accusations. As of April 2018, according to CNN, 103 drivers have been accused of sexual assault in the last four years. Some of these horror stories include that of Samantha Josephson who mistook a car for her Uber after leaving a bar and was found deceased the next day.

While stories like Samantha Josephson’s are uncommon, Uber has implemented precautions to be sure people can ride safely. The app now reminds passengers to check the license plate of the car before getting in, in an effort to avoid entrance into mistaken vehicles. In many states, the law requires that Uber drivers undergo a two-part background check to ensure safety for passengers. So what happens when you checked the license plate and you’re in the correct Uber but danger still finds you?

For a particular 15-year-old, this danger is all too real. The Long Island teen who was kidnapped by her Uber driver on July 12, 2019, found herself stuck in a car with a predator. The man, who has since been charged, picked up the girl from a birthday party to bring her home but instead planned to bring her back to his Brooklyn home. He cancelled her ride with her in the car and invited her to come drinking with him. Experts say that due to the nature of his treatment of her, he had likely been planning to sexually assault the teen. Luckily, the young girl was able to escape when she begged to be let into a McDonald’s to go to the bathroom, where she called the police.

Uber’s safety tool kit is a great resource for young riders and allows them to gain access from within the app itself. The safety tool kit is fully equipped with resources to ease people’s nerves as they enter a car with a stranger. 

Within this tool kit, Uber has added a new feature: the 911 button. Being tested in several states, this button allows riders to immediately alert the police if they feel they are in danger. The button shares the location with dispatchers when the call is made. All of these efforts set in motion by CEO Dara Khosrowshahi are in an effort to combat Uber’s incredibly alarming and poor safety record. In the coming years we can only hope that Uber can clear its name and create a fool-proof way for people to ride safely.

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