Uber is increasing safety with new features that will assist passengers in possibly dangerous situations and a promise to vet its drivers more closely. Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi announced the updates last week, which include an emergency button directly linked to 911, trusted contacts with whom riders can share trip details and a safety center detailing key information within the app.
Uber is also piloting 911 integration to help first responders get there faster by automatically sharing their location and trip details to the 911 dispatcher. Khosrowshahi said the company is working on modernizing 911 communications as well, to keep 911 calls from mobile devices from being routed to the wrong center.
In addition, the company is getting more serious about its driver screening efforts. “While no background check is perfect, our process is thorough, fair, and relevant to the work at hand. However, we can do more to ensure drivers continue to meet our standards on an ongoing basis, long after they take their first trip,” Khosrowshahi said in a company blog post. Measures include annual reruns of criminal and vehicle checks, new offense notifications and expanding the Uber Safety Advisory Board. Former U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson will join the board as Chairman.