In response to recent crimes committed by fake rideshare drivers in both the US and Canada, Uber has launched an in-app alert system to improve passenger safety. The ride-share company has informed Narcity that new safety features will be launching in the coming days, in an attempt to finally answer the question - is Uber safe? Canada and the US will be the first to see Uber's new system in action.
In Toronto this past weekend, a female passenger was sexually assaulted after getting into the vehicle of a man who posed as her ride-share driver. Back in 2017, another Toronto man posing as an Uber driver was charged for sexually assaulting a female passenger and stealing her debit card.
Also this weekend, a Toronto-area Uber driver was charged for sexually assaulting female passengers on two separate occasions, and holding them in his vehicle against their will. Uber has responded to the driver's arrest saying, “What’s been reported is horrible and nothing anyone should go through. We are fully cooperating with law enforcement and will continue to provide any information to them that would be helpful for their investigation. As soon as we learned of this, we removed this individual’s access to the app.”
But, the incident that prompted Uber's new safety initiative was the tragic death of 21-year-old Samantha Josephson last month. Josephson, a student at the University of South Carolina, got into a car after a night out with friends, thinking that it was the Uber ride that she ordered. About 14 hours later, Josephson's body was discovered in a field and the driver of the vehicle was charged in connection to her kidnapping and murder. Police told CNN, "We believe that she simply mistakenly got into this particular car thinking it was an Uber ride."
Uber's new safety features are called Check Your Ride. They will come in the form of new push notifications on your phone, as well as new banners within the Uber app. Uber has teamed up with the University of South Carolina to bring the system to life.
The safety campaign began in early April with an email to Canadian Uber users. The email outlines the three-step Check Your Ride safety process. The email also informs users to click the shield icon in the app to view Uber's Safety ToolKit for additional safety tips.
The push notifications are essentially reminders of this same three-step process, which pops up before the car arrives to ensure that users can see it in time. In addition, Uber is adding "a clear message in the app, starting from the moment you get matched with a driver until the moment you start your trip, to remind you how to confirm the right car."
Check out what the push notification and banner look like below:
Around this time last year, Uber also launched a series of other passenger safety features in Canada. One of these features is called Trusted Contacts, which allows users to select five of their contacts to share their Uber trip details with. Uber also improved their driver screening process to rerun criminal background checks annually. To find out more about their passenger safety initiatives, click here.