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News Room

How Safe Are You When You Take An Uber?

Melissa Cohen
2017-07-28
Uber has been making headlines in the last few weeks. From attacks on drivers to robbed passengers.
Uber has been in the news yet again in South Africa as another incident left an Uber driver burnt alive. Lindelani Mashau was waiting for passengers in Pretoria when his car was torched. He succumbed to his injuries two weeks later. This is not the first time where drivers are finding themselves in danger due to metre-taxi unrest. There are now 15 official locations in Johannesburg that have been declared Uber no-go zones. This means that in order to maintain drivers' as well as passenger safety, they are advised to stay clear of these areas. So if the drivers are in danger, how safe are the passengers taking Uber on a daily basis?
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What Is Uber Doing To Protect Passenger Safety? 

According to Uber SA spokesperson, Samantha Allenberg, Uber aims to protect the safety of the driver and passenger at all times.
"Any situation where safety is put at risk is absolutely unacceptable to us. It’s why we have made safety features like GPS tracking (of every trip) a reality. Our Incident Response Team (IRT) is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to respond immediately to any rider or driver reported incidents or accidents in South Africa and globally," explains Allenberg.
She further mentions that there are additional response vehicles that are available if the driver is faced with intimidation. As the app continues to be updated, so too have are its features. Uber now provides passengers with the colour of the vehicle so that the passenger is able to recognize their Uber before getting into it.

And Driver Safety? 

Uber has launched a new addition to their app for the driver-partners known as Real-Time ID check. According to Uber, "The technology works by prompting driver-partners to share a selfie from time to time before going online. Uber then compares this image to the photograph already on file with the account. This is achieved through advanced facial recognition technology." If the two images don't match, the driver is temporarily blocked and Uber then investigates who is using their app.
"It is important to us that this extra security feature does not inconvenience driver-partners. For this reason, we focused on making the user experience as simple as possible from the beginning of the project. We test it on driver-partners around the world to ensure it is a simple, effective and quick experience," adds Allenberg.
The driver is not required to take a selfie every time he/she logs on, it will be a periodical request performed by Uber.

How Does This Assist Passengers? 

Firstly, this app is aimed to protect the driver-partners from fraud, theft as well as having their account compromised. Allenberg is confident that the Real-Time ID app is benefiting passengers as well. "Real-time ID is only for driver-partners but the this security feature assures riders that when they are picked up, the right person is behind the wheel." Uber passengers are advised to always check the following:
  • The vehicle registration number;
  • The driver's name;
  • The type of vehicle;
  • The colour of the vehicle.
So be sure to be aware of your surroundings and the Uber you get into in order to ensure your safety.
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