For more than two months, Uber has been urging riders to stay home and be safe. Most of our drivers too, with the exception of those providing UberMedic, UberEssential and last-mile Delivery services have been confined to the safety of their homes.
Now, as cities begin to reopen and people start moving again, Uber is committed to setting the highest possible safety standards. Our tech and safety teams have been working overtime to build a new product experience to help protect everyone, every time you use Uber.
Go Online Checklist and Mask Verification
Before a driver can go online, they will be asked to confirm, via a new Go Online Checklist, that they’ve taken certain safety measures and are wearing a mask or face covering.
Our new technology will verify if the driver is wearing a mask by asking them to take a selfie. After we verify the driver is covering their face, we’ll notify the rider via an in-app message. (Unlike our Real-Time ID Check system, this technology detects the mask as an object in the photo, and does not process biometric information or compare mask selfies to driver photos in our database.)
In India, drivers who are not wearing a mask or face covering can not go online, starting today. We will maintain this policy through the end of June, and then reassess based on local conditions. We’ve designed this feature to adapt to changing public health guidance and government advisories related to the Covid-19 pandemic.
We’ve also built a similar checklist for riders. Before every trip, riders must certify that they’ve taken certain precautions like wearing a face mask and washed or sanitized their hands. They must also agree to sit in the rear seat and open windows for ventilation.
Accountability and Enforcement
Accountability is key—and it goes both ways. That’s why we are encouraging drivers to cancel trips without penalty if they don’t feel safe, including if the rider isn’t wearing a mask. It’s important to note that Uber’s Community Guidelines prohibit any discrimination against anyone based on their race or national origin.
If a driver shows up without a mask on, the rider can cancel the trip without penalty too, and report the issue to us via the app. Uber’s two-way feedback system has long helped ensure both riders and drivers uphold certain standards by requiring feedback on issues like vehicle quality, navigation, and speeding. Now, we are adding new options for feedback, such as those related to health and safety expectations. Drivers and riders who repeatedly violate mask policies risk losing access to Uber.
Supplies for Drivers
As we all begin to move around in this “new normal,” access to cleaning materials and personal protective equipment is critical. That’s why we’ve allocated $50 million globally to purchase safety supplies like masks, gloves, hand sanitizer, and disinfectant sprays and shower caps.
In India, we’ve been distributing millions of safety supplies to our drivers. We have sourced more than 3 million three-ply face masks, 1.2 million shower caps for Moto riders, 200,000 bottles of disinfectants and 200,000 bottles of sanitisers for free distribution to all our driver partners.
Sourcing is important, but we also need to distribute these products efficiently to drivers. And our engineering teams very quickly built a solution for that. Our new distribution technology ensures that drivers can get these safety supplies over a long period of time.
Moving forward, we’ll continue to source and ship supplies to drivers, doing our part to help make sure vehicles are cleaned regularly and riders have access to sanitizing supplies in the car.
Safety Education from Experts
Working with the World Health Organization, we have compiled safety tips and recommendations specifically geared toward ridesharing.
We’ve already begun sharing this information with users globally and we’ll now leverage the tips to educate riders and drivers when we learn of unsafe behaviour. We’ve also used this information to produce COVID-19 safety educational videos.
During the first phase of the crisis, it’s been heartening to see our communities come together with a collective sense of responsibility. As we move into the new normal, it’s our goal to encourage this same sense of shared responsibility: Uber, riders, drivers—we all have a role to play in keeping each other safe!