‘We must ensure nothing like this ever happens again’: Uber launches new safety features in app in Columbia
COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - The University of South Carolina and Uber announced a nationwide effort to raise public awareness and educate students about rideshare safety Thursday morning.
This comes after 21-year-old Samantha Josephson died after getting in a car she mistook for an Uber in Five Points.
Starting from awareness to new features in the app, Uber officials say these past few weeks they have been working endlessly to ensure ride sharing experiences are as safe as possible.
“Even though it was not an Uber driver, even though it had people say, ‘Well, it didn’t have anything to do with Uber why are you here?’ Well, you know what? We’re here because we care about educating people and helping them get in the right ride.” said Tracey Breeden, who works for Uber.
As of Thursday, Uber is launching new safety features in the app in Columbia. These features will be released across the nation at a later date.
There will be Check Your Ride Push Notifications to remind riders of the Check Your Ride steps just before their car arrives.
Uber said they are putting a clear message in the app, starting from the moment you get matched with a driver until the moment you start your trip, to remind you how to confirm the right car.
Uber officials also spoke about Dedicated Pickup Zones, where they will be partnering with USC and the Columbia Police Department to direct riders through the app to a dedicated pickup zone in the Five Points district where they can meet their driver.
There will also be a 911 assistance feature in the app along with being able to share a real-time location with loved ones.
President Harris Pastides said he’s pleased with how Uber has responded to wanting to change their app.
“That’s where people want to live with push notifications,” Pastides said. ”So, when a rider is waiting for their Uber impatiently and dying to open the door a minute before, they’re going to get a reminder not to do that. Without ensuring it’s the right owner, I myself have gone into the wrong Uber more than once in a hurry, can’t wait, distracted, didn’t check the plate, and then you realize a minute or two later that you’re in the wrong Uber and it had a happy ending because nobody had intent on doing anything wrong, but that simply can’t keep happening.”
Another big part of the initiative is stressing awareness.
Uber said they are sending every rider in the U.S. an email with the Check Your Ride steps.
They are also launching an awareness campaign on social media, along with placing ads in college newspapers and on billboards near entertainment districts across the country to educate students about these steps.
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