With an increase in rideshare incidents, Uber provides us with their Safety Tips and Checks for a Safer Ride.
Uber not only provided us with their safety tips and checks for a safer ride but also spent time answering a few of our in-depth safety questions, to help put your mind at ease the next time you book an Uber.
1. Can you comment on Uber’s approach to different security risks in different countries? Do you conduct an analysis on different geographical locations before deploying operations? Obviously, the risks users face in the US for example are much different to an area like Durban, where crimes such as armed robberies, rape and abductions are rife, and opportunistic criminals are using resources like your company to conduct their nefarious deeds?
“We would like to emphasize that we are deeply committed to our responsibility of contributing to the safety of our communities and to providing the best possible experience to users on the app, which is why we are always hard at work to improve safety on the platform.
Uber’s community guidelines were developed to help make every experience feel safe, respectful, and positive. Everyone who uses Uber’s platform is expected to follow the guidelines—that includes drivers, riders, delivery people, Uber Eats users, merchants, and businesses. We update our guidelines regularly to help make sure everybody in the Uber community always feels safe and welcome.”
2. What steps do your company take to ensure your passengers are in safe hands?
“Technology is at the heart of our approach and by doing things like helping people avoid drunk driving, tracking every trip with GPS, and 24/7 feedback and response from our safety team, Uber can contribute to safety in our communities.
Travelers deserve to feel safe no matter how they get to and from their destination.
Tips and some of the safety features available on the app:
- Uber has introduced transparency and accountability into the transportation market. Driver and vehicle information, instant feedback and traceable trips are features that did not exist until Uber launched in South Africa.
- Once a driver accepts a request, the riders will see their driver’s name and photo, vehicle type and license plate number. Riders are able to see the vehicle colour on the app so they are able to recognise their ride even before they are picked up.
- We also have other features in place called Real-Time ID Check which prompts drivers periodically to take a selfie prior to accepting rides and compares it to the driver’s profile photo. This helps ensure the person driving matches the account we have on file.
- We also have Two-Factor Authorization (2FA) where drivers who login to their phone on a new device will have to enter a OTP (similar to your banking profile) as well as a Pin Verification feature where Uber users have the option of receiving a four-digit PIN code to provide to their drivers before starting an Uber trip. This added layer of verification can help ensure riders get in the right car and that drivers are picking up the correct rider.
- From 24/7 in-app support to transparent 2-way ratings, we take our responsibility to contribute to the safety of our communities seriously. From pick-up to drop-off, we believe that safety never stops. Some of the features available in terms of the Safety Toolkit, include:
- Trusted Contacts, which shares your trip details with your loved ones
- In-App Emergency Button which connects to a third-party emergency response team
- 24:7 Incident Response Team who are trained to manage any safety incident
- A dedicated law enforcement team who work closely with the local authorities when required.”
3. Do you have vetting processes for your drivers? If so, can you divulge what this would entail? A criminal check, for example? If one of your drivers has been arrested for a crime, do you have systems in place that ensure their access to your resources are revoked?
“Uber has in place a number of processes that drivers are required to undergo before gaining access to the app. These include:
- Possession of a valid Professional Driver’s Permit (PrDP).
- A clear background check using the Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS). This is a secondary background screening conducted by an industry-leading, third-party professional.
- Alongside these screenings, drivers need to apply with their driver’s licenses, ID, double operating discs, proof of commercial insurance, roadworthy certificate, operating permit or receipt thereof.
- They also have to pass a third-party driving evaluation test which tests the driver’s ability in a vehicle provided to them, measuring whether they drive safely and according to road regulations.
In terms of crime related incidents, in any case of this nature we may temporarily remove a driver’s access to the app while we investigate and will contact law enforcement to assist their investigation in any way we can.”
4. Are your vehicles tracked? Can they alert a control room for example if the vehicle is traveling over the speed limit?
“Feeling safe during your trip means knowing you can act if something goes wrong. That’s why, using GPS data, RideCheck can help detect if your trip has an unexpected long stop. If so, we’ll check on you and your driver through the app and offer ways to get help should you need it.
We also have an In-app speed alerts feature that reminds drivers to maintain a safe speed within the local speed limits.
We have driving hour limits in place to reduce the risk of drowsy driving. With this feature, drivers will be notified to take a 6-hour break after spending up to 12 hours of time driving with Uber.”
5. Any further comments from your business’s standpoint on the safety and security, of both passenger and driver, would be welcome.
“We are deeply committed to our responsibility of contributing to the safety of our communities and to providing the best possible experience to users on the App. Hence we are always hard at work to improve safety on the platform to raise the bar on safety.”
Disclaimer: All information provided herein was, to the best of Uber’s knowledge, correct and complete as at the time of sharing. Uber will not be held liable for any incomplete or incorrect information.
Ridesharing: Pro Safety Tips
Technology apps like Uber have improved safety by creating accountability and transparency where previously there was none. However, when it is time to request a ride, there are moments you’re unsure about what to do. Simply request a ride, wait inside and remember to tick off the following before you hop in the vehicle:
Verify your driver and vehicle before getting into the vehicle: The Uber app provides you with all the details of your driver and vehicle as soon as the driver accepts your request. Make sure that you wait for your driver in a safe well-lit area, preferably with someone, until your confirmed driver has arrived. It is never a good idea to have your phone in clear sight outdoors or in the dark or to wait alone if you can help it.
When the vehicle arrives be sure to:
✓ Identify the vehicle registration plate and cross-check with the app
✓ Check that both the vehicle make and colour matches – an image of the vehicle colour and type is provided in app
✓ Ask for your driver’s name and check the in-app photo – you also have the ability to click into and enlarge the driver photo in-app.
✓ Opt-in to the Verify Your Ride feature by navigating to the app settings and tapping “Verify Your Ride.” From there, you can choose to use the feature, which uses a PIN to help make sure you get into the right car, on every trip or only during evening trips (9 pm – 6 am).
Rides taken on the Uber platform can only be requested through the Uber app, so no matter how much of a hurry you may be in, don’t feel pressured to accept street hail solicitations from anyone claiming to operate on the Uber app.
Use your intuition: There is no need to share personal information with your driver, Uber has an anonymous contact system to ensure riders and drivers don’t need to share their personal information. You can contact a driver at any time through the Uber app. If something doesn’t feel right, follow your intuition. And if you’re ever in an emergency situation, simply tap the shield icon on the map to access the in-app emergency button to call for assistance.
Remember to follow these steps in order to properly identify your vehicle and driver. If you find any discrepancies or inconsistencies with any of the aforementioned, feel free to politely cancel the trip and provide feedback in-app.