By: Nick Gambino
After a horrific incident a few weeks ago where an Uber rider was killed after getting into the wrong car, the ride-hailing app has released a new security feature aimed at making sure riders link up with the correct drivers.
The new feature sends a push notification to the rider’s phone reminding them to check and make sure the car and its driver match up with the ride they ordered. The notification will include relevant information like the name of the driver, a photo of the driver, the license plate number and the vehicles make and model.
This information was already available within the app, but this alert brings all of the information to the forefront, even if you’re not in the Uber app when the car pulls up. As someone who has gotten into the wrong car before, this is a welcome addition.
“In the app, when you’ve ordered your Uber, when it’s on the way, you will get more persistent, more frequent notifications, push notifications, to your phone that remind you to check your ride,” Chief Legal and Security Officer, Tony West, told NBC News.
I can’t help but think they could go a step further and require you to hit some sort of “check” or “verify” button once you’ve made sure it’s the right car and driver. Maybe until you do so the ride won’t start. Though I’ll admit this might get a little unwieldy and would probably cause a headache for some, especially those with their hands full.
In addition to the push alerts, when you first open the Uber app, you’ll see a banner displayed at the bottom that reads “check your ride every time.” Once you book your ride, you’ll receive an in-app alert that reminds you to check the license plate, etc. before getting in the car. The final notification is the push alert when the driver arrives.
West brought up another safe practice that we should all adopt. It’s not enough to ask our usual question, “Are you Dave?” Instead, we can ask a more pointed question. “It’s become sort of second nature whenever we get into a car to buckle up,” West said. “It has to be second nature before you get into a car to ask, ‘Hey who are you here to pick up?’”
This new security feature is first rolling out in Columbia, South Carolina where University of South Carolina student Samantha Josephson mistakenly got in the wrong car on March 29 before she was killed. The feature will roll out to the rest of the country in the next few days.
This welcome update is one of many responses by Uber to rising concerns as well as incidents like the one in South Carolina. They also released a list of safety tips that every rider should read.