Uber is a convenient way to get around but getting in an Uber can be risky. Riders are, for all intents, accepting rides from complete strangers. To combat sexual assault and other safety issues, Uber is adding a panic button to their app.
The Uber App Panic Button
A new section on the Uber app, entitled Safety Center, is easily accessed from the home screen. From this page, Uber riders will be able to contact 911 in the event of an emergency. Don’t worry though, it is a two-step process, so it can’t be accidently dialed.
In several test cities, the Uber panic button will send your exact location to emergency dispatchers. These cities include Denver; Charleston; Chattanooga and the Tri-Cities; Naples, Florida; and Louisville. With successful tests, the automatic location information system will be expanded to all US Uber markets. Eventually, the system will be active world-wide.
In addition to the panic button, the Safety Center contains information on driver screening processes and insurance protections. It also offers a list of community guidelines and what behaviors get riders banned from Uber.
Why an App is Needed
In an emergency, riders may forget about calling 911 directly from their phones. They may also be looking for help from Uber directly and then realize they need help more quickly. The panic button is an extra safety feature for riders.
Unfortunately, cell phones and the 911 system don’t always communicate well. If the caller is unable to give a location, the success rate for first responders to find a victim’s precise location ranges from 10% to 33%. By 2021, an FCC rule requires an 80% success rate. However, 2021 is a long way away and the rule is not much help in the meantime.
Riders are not the only people at risk when using Uber. Drivers have also been assaulted by passengers. In order to make drivers safer, Uber will be offering drivers a similar button as well.
Uber is working hard to make sure that both riders and drivers are safe, and the Uber panic button will help to make that more of a reality.