Uber on Tuesday launched a number of new safety features for riders in India, months after publishing an audit report where the company claimed to have made an economic impact worth ₹446 billion last year. The safety features align with a recent push from the central government to have four-wheeler passengers compulsorily use seat belts in the rear seats as well. Alongside, Uber claims that its app will henceforth serve notifications to its riders, if a driver takes an ‘unexpected route’ during a trip.
Sooraj Nair, head of safety operations at Uber India and South Asia, said in a statement that the latest measures include both “technology and human interventions”. The app, for instance, will serve audio reminders for riders to put on seat belts too, in the rear seat.
The new features include a third iteration of RideCheck. Uber stated at an event in Delhi earlier today that the feature, which previously alerted riders with a notification on their app in case the driver took long duration stops in between a journey, will also serve notifications to a rider on their app if a driver takes an “unexpected route”, or ends a trip before the intended destination.
Other safety features announced by Uber include integration of its ‘SOS’ button on the app with police bodies in more cities. The feature is presently live in Hyderabad only, and the company said it is “in active talks with major metro cities” to expand the feature. Under this, users would be able to share key information, including vehicle and driver details, as well as their live location, with police authorities in case of a safety emergency.
The company also claims that its live support helpline will be available to riders for up to 30 minutes after a trip has ended. The company claimed that its help centres “answer 99% of incoming calls within the first 30 seconds of the call being placed”.
The US-based ride hailing service faced a major expose earlier this year, when an investigative report by The Guardian detailed actions of lobbying politicians, evading raids by leveraging in-house technologies, and other related law-breaking. The company reportedly faced plenty of inspections in India too, shortly after launching its service in the country in 2014, the ‘Uber Files’ reports revealed.