Last year, the New South Wales Point to Point Transport Commissioner announced the findings of an audit of Uber’s safety operations in the State. In a regulated industry, audits are a normal process and we welcomed the opportunity to improve safety not just for Uber, but for the wider rideshare industry. 

Since we embarked on this journey in March 2020, we have worked collaboratively with the Point to Point Transport Commission to provide an insight into the way Uber approaches safety and to address any issues raised. 

With the audit now finalised, following an independent review of Uber’s solutions to the items raised, we want to share some of the key learnings, changes and commitments we have made to enhance safety across our rideshare platform

Managing the risk of driver-partner fatigue 

The audit examined driver-partner fatigue risks, beyond our industry-first Driver Hour Limits fatigue management feature; a process which ensures driver-partners are logged off the app for 8 consecutive hours once they’ve been online for 12 cumulative hours without an 8 hour (or longer) break.

Driver-partners can be fatigued for many reasons, for example if they have a new baby or a bad nights’ sleep, so it is important that we empower them with the right education and information to ensure that they make informed decisions about their fitness to drive. 

To strengthen our processes in this area, we have implemented and committed to:

  • Working with some of Australia’s best fatigue management experts to further develop our fatigue risk management policies and ensure that they take into account the way driver-partners choose to fit Uber around their lifestyles.
  • Enhancing our fatigue management feature so that driver-partners not only receive multiple notifications when approaching the 12-hour driving limit, but more regular reminders to take an extended break, such as if they have been online at least once a day for six consecutive days.
  • Improving driver-partner education modules so that they are made aware of the risks more broadly to manage their fatigue.
  • Implementing further Uber employee training on fatigue management and conducting regular internal audits to identify risk trends and assess procedure effectiveness.
  • Continuing to raise the bar for fatigue standards by championing the establishment of industry-wide principles. We hope to work with state regulators, other point to point operators and industry participants on an industry-wide solution. 

Investigating, reporting and notifying safety incidents 

Safety is a top priority and we are committed to ensuring that we have robust policies, processes and cutting edge features built into our technology to support the safety of everyone who uses our app. User feedback is at the heart of this and helps us pinpoint issues to enhance the platform for every user.

Unlike other modes of transportation, we prompt riders and driver-partners for feedback after every trip and proactively encourage reporting. With the number of daily trips on our platform, this means that we see more reports than most other modes of transport. In fact, we receive over 200,000 interactions with our customers every week ranging from customer service issues like ‘my driver was late’ to safety incidents such as ‘my rider asked me to drop them off in a no stopping zone.’ 

Our incident response team is trained to flag when incidents occur which meet the criteria for notifying regulators. We use a combination of technology to automatically detect key words in reports and human review to properly escalate interactions and respond. As there are humans involved in this process, sometimes errors do occur. Knowing this, we carry out regular internal audits and lookbacks, and proactively report them to the regulator. It was this process which helped us identify and self-report all 524 notifiable instances mentioned publicly alongside the audit findings. 

As part of our ongoing commitment to continue to improve our incident management processes over time, we have:

  • Significantly invested in resources to improve our regulator reporting systems to prevent future missed notifiables, including more frequent analysis and reviews.
  • Updated agent training to ensure complaints are properly investigated and managed consistently.
  • Introduced new processes for incident handling, particularly in regards to managing low severity safety incidents.
  • Enhanced our communication and education for driver-partners in regards to notifiable incidents. 

You can read more about how we manage more serious safety reports here.

Checking driver-partner and vehicle compliance 

Uber driver-partners in Australia undergo a number of screening processes in accordance with each state’s regulatory framework before being able to drive via the Uber app. In NSW, our current onboarding process requires that driver-partners complete a National Criminal Check and be able to pass a vehicle safety check, amongst other checks, before they are allowed to operate on the platform. On a routine basis, we also check NSW driver-partners and their vehicles via the Point to Point Transport Commissioner’s Driver Vehicle Dashboard, to ensure they meet safety standards set out by the regulator.

To enhance our vehicle and driver compliance processes and address the issues raised in the audit, we have:

  • Proactively built a process that audits the maintenance records of driver-partners with vehicles considered to be at higher risk of maintenance or safety issues. 
  • Updated our processes to ensure that non-compliant vehicles cannot be used elsewhere on our platform.
  • Improved our education modules for driver-partners on vehicle maintenance.
  • Updated our policy to ensure all vehicles have current and continuing third-party property insurance.

We know we have a responsibility to keep people safe and there will always be more work to do. We will continue to work collaboratively with state regulators across the country to listen, learn and improve as we continue to provide the safest rideshare service in Australia.