Uber has introduced two new safety features for riders in India in response to concerns about safety after a passenger reported that she had been attacked by a driver.
The San Francisco-based taxi firm’s app will now have a “panic button” that allows riders to notify the police in case of an emergency and a “safety net” feature that will allow users to share their trip details and location with as many as five other people.
Uber has also said that it is creating a local team that will respond to reports by riders and will get a notification when the panic button is pressed. The new features came out on Wednesday, but Uber did not say if the new features will be available in other countries other than India.
If you aren't clear on what Uber is, it is an app that lets passengers summon cars through an app in more than 250 cities around the world! Unfortunately since they have been expanding, they now face multiple legal and regulatory challenges.
An Uber passenger said she was attacked by a driver in New Delhi in December last year and then sued the company in January. The lawsuit alleges that Uber isn't doing enough to keep their passengers safe, and the company may also face charges if Indian Prosecutors believe it misrepresented the safety of its services.
Uber has actually been banned in New Delhi, India. It has also been banned in the southern technology hub of Hyderabad and the entire southern state of Karnataka. However, the company says it plans to improve its safety programmes this year and is looking for new ways to screen drivers.
Uber recently wrote on their blog that the idea of a physical panic button wasn't possible because they don’t actually own the cabs. They added that buttons would be vulnerable to wear and tear and said that if it and other operators were forced to put buttons in cars, passengers might get confused in an emergency.
So, for now the app will just have to do, unless the owner of the vehicle took responsibility of installing the panic button and if the button called the police directly!
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Written By: Christine Romans