Only on Uber: safety in the driver’s seatWritten by
Our goal is to make Uber the best platform for flexible work on Earth. That starts with listening to drivers and innovating to make their experience better.
As we said this summer, we’ve been spending more time getting feedback from drivers—whether it’s five-star or one-star.
Today we’re announcing a suite of new product features geared toward safety in the driver’s seat.
Reducing left turns
Anyone who drives knows the challenges of making a left turn, especially in a busy city. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 22% of crashes involve a vehicle making a left turn at an intersection. We’ve now improved our in-app navigation to suggest fewer left turns. With just a few minor adjustments to GPS routing that have little to no impact on trip time, drivers who use Uber’s in-app navigation can enjoy a less stressful driving experience.
Partially controlled intersection alerts
According to NHTSA, a quarter of traffic fatalities and about half of all traffic injuries occur at intersections, and in 2018 alone there were more than6,700 fatalities involving intersections without signals. When a driver using Uber’s in-app navigation is approaching an intersection without a four-way stop, the app will now highlight this on the map screen with a message reminding them to “watch for cross traffic.”
Record My Ride
Audio Recording expansion
Already available to riders and drivers in more than a dozen countries, our optional in-app Audio Recording feature began piloting last year in three US cities. We’ve seen many instances
where this technology has helped us determine the best course of action after a safety incident, and the majority of riders and drivers in the pilot cities told us this feature helped them feel safer when using Uber. Based on this response, we will expand the Audio Recording pilot to six new US cities (Cincinnati, Nashville, Phoenix, Salt Lake City, San Antonio and Tucson) beginning next month.
The Audio Recording feature is built with privacy in mind. The audio file is encrypted and stored directly on the rider or driver’s device. No one can listen to the audio—including Uber, the rider or the driver—while it remains on the device. If a safety-related incident occurs during a trip, a rider or driver can attach the audio file and other relevant information when sending us a safety report. The file will be decrypted and a trained safety agent will review it to help determine what happened.
Importantly, it is the rider or driver who decides when to record audio and when to share it with Uber. For more details on this feature, including answers to common questions, please see the Audio Recording information page.
Video recording trial
Since the launch of Audio Recording, we’ve been exploring the ability to allow drivers to choose to record video using the front-facing camera on their smartphone, similar to a dashcam. Many drivers use traditional dashcams today, but those can require extensive setup and can come with a hefty price tag.
On the other hand, the feature we’ll test is free and can be set up in seconds in Uber’s Driver app. Once it’s enabled, drivers can record both video and audio on every trip. When placed in a phone mount, the front-facing camera has a view of the vehicle’s interior. Because we built this feature on top of our existing Audio Recording technology, it comes with the same privacy protections—so no one, including the driver, can access the recording unless that driver chooses to share it with Uber.
We are excited to test this technology with select drivers in Cincinnati, Louisville and New York City in the U.S., as well as Santos and João Pessoa, Brazil. Their feedback will shape the future of this feature.
In-app safety tips and resources
Drivers can encounter challenging moments out on the road. So we’ve created new tips, now available in the in-app Learning Center, to help them manage some of the trickiest situations drivers have reported to us. We’ve consulted with experts, police and drivers themselves for advice on how to handle situations—like what to do if a rider falls asleep in the car after a night out or if a rider doesn’t have a car seat for their toddler.
In addition, we’ve added a section in the Learning Center dedicated to safety tips from law enforcement that range from helping drivers avoid falling victim to criminals to helping them report potential instances of human trafficking. This content can be tailored to a region in case police in a driver’s city have specific warnings.
Updating rider accounts
To help make the Uber platform as accessible as possible and prevent discrimination based on a name, we allow riders to update their name in the Uber app. However, we’ve seen some riders use fake names—such as the names of cartoon characters or even offensive language—which can lead to challenging pickups or uncomfortable situations for drivers.
That’s why we’re conducting a large audit of rider account names and freezing accounts with names that are clearly fake. These accounts will remain blocked until riders update or validate their account names with our support agents.
We’re also making it easier for drivers to flag any fake or inappropriate names they encounter. Drivers can go to their app’s Help section, find the option to report an issue with a rider, and select My rider had an inappropriate name. Uber’s Support team will then be able to take appropriate action to block those accounts until the names are updated.
Additionally, we know from law enforcement and other experts that anonymous payment methods are often linked to bad actors—and we heard from drivers that they wanted more information about who they are picking up. That’s why we require a valid email address, phone number and payment method to open an Uber rider account. In 2021, we also began asking riders with unverified forms of payment, like a prepaid gift card or Venmo, to upload an ID before they can start requesting trips. We will continue to listen to driver feedback and look for ways to build off of these enhancements.
Our work to build the safest platform on Earth is never done, and we believe technology can make every ride safer. We’ve designed these new features to provide more peace of mind when driving and delivering. We look forward to your feedback.