Uber has a new safety center menu option on its application's home screen which, among other things, allows for quick calls to 911 in the U.S. Specifically, this is a tool meant to assuage fears that Uber riders often have with regard to their own personal safety during a trip. To that end, the safety center provides details about the Uber screening process for drivers, the insurance drivers carry, and the company's community guidelines. It also contains a button designed to help riders in any instance where police or other emergency services might be needed. By using an upward swiping gesture on the safety center icon, users are presented with an option to receive 911 assistance. Tapping that presents them with a confirmation screen to ensure they actually need to call and confirming that will put a call through to local 911 dispatchers.
In some parts of the country, that feature will be further augmented with location sharing in order to account for the fact that 911 dispatchers often have difficulty pinpointing caller location. That should also be useful in cases where the Uber rider might feel a bit less than comfortable trying to describe what's going on to dispatchers. What it does is to send rider location, as well as trip and route details to 911 so that the person on the other end can accurately send assistance. For now, location sharing is still in testing and only available in Denver, Charleston, Nashville, Chattanooga, and Naples, but it's a safe bet that will spread if testing proves successful - although there's no way to know for sure what success might look like in this case.
Additionally, a driver-focused version of the safety service package is expected to roll out at some point in the future but Uber hasn't specified when that will happen. There's no immediate information available as to when the rollout itself is expected to be finished either. So users shouldn't be concerned if it hasn't hit their handset just yet. Rollout periods tend to range from days to weeks and it isn't clear whether this is a server-side or app-based change. Most likely, it's the latter and that tends to extend the timeframe involved. Whatever the case may be, the change will almost certainly help prop up the company's reputation in terms of safety, following its many widely publicized gaffes recorded in recent times.