WLOX - Uber announced that it will soon roll out a stronger set of security measures to protect its riders.
Three major safety initiatives were outlined in an email to app users including more rigorous driver screening, "Trusted Contacts" ride information sharing and 911 access from within the app.
On it's website, Uber also addressed its previous screening system, which only required for drivers to pass a criminal background and driving history check when first signing up. Before the new policy, yearly background checks were only mandatory on a state-by-state basis.
"Since 2009, millions of drivers have undergone driving record and background screenings," reads the statement. "Starting soon, we will be proactively rerunning criminal and driver history checks every year, for every driver."
A new 911 feature provides emergency assistance without having to switch screens. You can find the "Emergency Toolkit" button, shaped like a police shield, in the bottom-right corner of the map.
Tap the button and a display will pop up with your exact location, the car's license plate number plus the make and model of the car you're riding in. The concept was developed to have this information in a central location to make communication with emergency officials easier.
Some areas even offer 911 access without the rider having to say a word.
A partnership with RapidSOS gives riders the option of automatic location sharing with 911 dispatch in these select cities: Denver, Colorado; Charleston, South Carolina; Chattanooga, Tennessee; Naples, Florida; Louisville, Kentucky; and the Tri-Cities, Tennessee. Nashville, Tennessee is slated to be the next city to receive the service, according to the app.
The safety of the ride-sharing service has been under major scrutiny after an incident in Denver in late-May, when an Uber driver allegedly shot and killed one of his passengers in late May. Uber's current policy bans riders and drivers from carrying firearms in vehicles, except in states that expressly prohibit companies from banning guns.