Since the dreadful mass shooting by an Uber driver in Kalamazoo last month, it came to light that the cab service has been piloting an emergency hotline in 22 US cities since October 2015.
The number (800-353-8237) patches callers through to an Uber call center, which escalates critical cases through to 911. As it turns out, it isn’t prominently displayed in the app. It also wasn’t available to passengers in Kalamazoo when the incident took place.
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I imagine that an easy way to get in touch with Uber might have helped passengers at least flag the driver’s erractic behavior so he could have been stopped in his tracks.
The lack of robust safety features is appalling, considering Uber is no longer a startup but rather a $50 billion global company. Both drivers and passengers both need to be able to report when they’re in danger during a ride quickly and easily.
The company has implemented certain measures in some countries: In India, Uber’s app features a panic button that not only phones local police but also alerts cops of danger along with the location of the vehicle in question.
What Uber needs to realize is that high safety standards across its offerings around the world could give it a serious edge over its competition. No cab service currently owns the ‘safest ride on the planet’ tagline, and the company has the technical chops, financial backing and global experience to earn it.
Having guidelines in place for ensuring safety that have been tried and tested elsewhere in the world could also help Uber enter new markets and win over local transport authorities more easily.
Not to mention that the fact that everyone who uses Uber will be safer and happier for it.