Controversial ridesharing app Uber has introduced two new safety features to bolster confidence and security for its users.
Under the new changes, users’ phone numbers will be anonymised, meaning drivers will no longer be able to see a passenger’s contact details, and vice versa.
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This has been a common concern regarding the ridesharing app, with StartupSmart reporting earlier this year of a 21-year-old Melbourne woman who had a “concerning” experience after a driver obtained her phone number.
A new ‘SafetyNet’ feature has also been introduced, allowing passengers to share their trip details – including the specific route and expected time of arrival – with up to five pre-selected friends or family members, who don’t need to have the app installed.
“As part of our commitment to constantly improve our safety features for riders and drive-partners, we’ve recently introduced some new technology to enhance the way you connect and communicate with your driver, and share your trip details with friends and family,” an Uber statement says.
Safety has been a lingering concern surrounding the giant startup, with an Uber driver to stand trial in Perth next year accused of indecently assaulting a female passenger, and another driver in Sydney accused of sexually assaulting a female passenger.
Uber says its pre-existing safety features include background checks for all drivers, vehicle safety measures, insurance, location sharing and actionable feedback.
The updates come as the startup has recently been ruled effectively illegal in Victoria after a driver was fined $900 for driving without a commercial licence or registration.