On Thursday, the popular rideshare app Uber unveiled a new Verify Your Ride feature that aims to ensure passengers will always get in the right vehicle when they're looking for their rideshare. This feature is in addition to a number of other safety features introduced in the announcement, all of which aim to make the passenger experience not only safer, but also more efficient.
If you've ever tried to find your Uber after an event or in a busy area, you know that getting into the wrong car is all too common. When there's four sedans that all look the same, that are all flashing their lights, and that are all waiting for passengers on the same street corner, you have to make sure you pay particular attention to the license plate displayed on your app to ensure you find your car. If you read the license plate incorrectly or even just make a mistake, it could all result in getting in the wrong vehicle, which could be a liability to both passenger and driver. To make the process of finding your car easier and more reliable, Uber introduced its ride verification feature, which adds another layer of protection for those who both ride with and drive with the app.
To be absolutely certain that you're getting into the car that you ordered, you now have the option of receiving a unique four-digit PIN with your ride. When your car arrives, you'll have to verbally provide your driver with this PIN, and your driver will then have to enter this PIN into their app on their phone. Only when the correct PIN is entered will the ride be able to begin on both the driver and passenger's phones. If the incorrect PIN is entered, the ride won't begin, and the driver won't receive directions and instructions for your drop off.
Another new and pretty groundbreaking feature introduced by the company is a "Text to 911" option in select cities and countries. While there's been an emergency button right in the app that would connect you directly to 911 since last year, this new option would allow passengers to connect to 911 over text if they're riding in a city or country that supports 911 text technology (which, according to the FCC, is a few states in the US.) As for how it'll work: Uber will automatically draft a text message that will include trip details, car make and model, license plate, and location, so that 911 operators can respond quickly — and all you have to do is tap a button. No one will be alerted that you have reached out for help except the authorities themselves.
On a similar note, you'll soon be able to submit "on-trip reporting" if other issues arise during your trip that aren't exactly emergencies. While you'll want to get in touch with 911 for any life-threatening or dangerous safety concerns, you'll soon be able to see a “Report Safety Incident” button in your safety toolkit. This new feature will allow you to report a safety issue during the trip, as opposed to after it's ended (which, previously, was the only way this could be done). Uber’s safety team will follow up with you and your report after the trip when it's safe to talk.
While riders and drivers should still always exercise the utmost amount of caution when using any ride-share platform, technological updates like these can thankfully make things just a little bit safer for everyone.