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Uber's new safety feature could save you in an emergency

Uber's new safety feature could save you in an emergency
© Erica Schroeder | Dreamstime.com

As safe as everyone may want it to be, there is an inherent danger in using a ride-sharing app like Uber. Despite all the safeguards the company tries to put in place for both its passengers and drivers, the fact of the matter is you are either getting in a stranger's car or picking up a random person in yours.

That has all been highlighted recently as people have looked deeper into crime surrounding Uber and its competitor, Lyft. Not surprisingly, the companies are looking into ways to make their services safer.

One of the things Uber has been looking into is having a safety center inside the app, one that will allow riders to designate contacts with whom the details of their ride will be shared. They are providing another safety measure, and it is coming to the United States now.

Help is a couple taps away

Along with trusted contacts, Uber has installed a 911 assistance feature that means you can contact emergency services directly from the app. Because of that, you do not have to close the app and when you do call, you will not lose track of your location.

And if you happen to live in certain cities, such as Denver, Charleston, Louisville, Naples or a few in Tennessee, there is a tie-in with RapidSOS that will automatically share your location with 911 dispatchers. Uber is hoping to eventually bring that service to every city where they operate.

As part of the feature, Uber -- which will know you called 911 through its app -- will later send you a message asking if they can help. What they will not know is what you told the dispatcher, and your driver will not be notified of the call.

This should make the app safer

In a perfect world, neither passengers nor drivers would ever have a need for a 911 button. Instead people would just get in the car and have a pleasant experience until they safely arrive at their destination.

In short, the hope is the new features never have to be used.

But we don't live in that world, and despite Uber's best efforts to provide background checks for their drivers, some have gone on to commit crimes. Fear over such things being regular occurrences could lead to the demise of apps like theirs, so it makes sense that they would try to come up with ways to, if nothing else, at least give the appearance of a safer platform.

Does Lyft have anything like it?

While Uber's troubles have generated much of the headlines, they are not alone in trying to ensure the safety of those using the service. Lyft already announced some new safety procedures, including greater scrutiny and deeper background checks on their drivers.

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Source: Engadget
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