Uber has unveiled a new set of safety-related tools set to begin rolling out over the next several months that range from aut0matic accident detection to digital protections, according to an announcement from CEO Dara Khosrowshahi. The most prominent of the new features is called Ride Check and utilizes a smartphone's built-in sensors and GPS to check up on the status of a ride, specifically whether or not a crash has occurred. When a possible accident is detected, both riders and the driver will be notified with a prompt that redirects to the app's Safety Toolkit. A question will be presented to ascertain whether an accident has happened and options will be shown to initiate a 911 dispatch, a call from Uber's safety team, or other appropriate actions. Tying into that, a similar check will be performed if the vehicle stops for an extended period and further scenarios will be added going forward. The same tools will also help Uber improve accuracy and effectiveness of the feature over time.
Safety Toolkit's rider-specific emergency button is also being brought to the driver-centered application in the US and Canada as of the announcement. As with the rider's variation of the tool. That offers Uber drivers quick access to the trip sharing, 911 calls, and real-time location access directly from the app's home screen. The Insurance Hub is included among those options for drivers too, giving them access to insurance details without having to navigate too many menus. In conjunction with the launch of the new toolkit, the ride-sharing company is adding Boston, San Diego, and Washington D.C. to its list of cities where 911 integration is more thorough. Now, drivers in those areas will see pertinent vehicle and location details sent automatically to a 911 dispatcher when they initiate a 911 call. That feature will be expanded outside of the US, beginning with Mexico, at an unspecified future date as well. Finally, the company has now begun testing on voice-controls for the driver version of the app in order to free drivers attention from their smartphone display. That will allow the driver both to be more situationally aware and engage better with the customer.
Lastly, the company is focusing new efforts on digital protections for drivers and riders. To begin with, a driver's trip history will no longer show exact addresses for pickups or dropoffs, once a trip has ended, in order to protect the privacy of riders. A general area will be provided instead. Meanwhile, two-factor authentication is going beyond text message-based codes and those codes only being put to use when suspicious activity is detected. While the codes will still be provided by default, riders will now have the option to enable them for every log-in and third-party authentication methods such as Google Authenticator will now also be usable. Users simply need to navigate to the app's account settings page and then to the 'two-step verification' section to set their preferences.