Uber has unveiled a new safety feature that could improve your chances of getting help when you need it.
When you boot up the app on Tuesday, you’ll find a new option to call for emergency services. If you were to tap it, the feature would immediately provide you with your location, the make and model of the vehicle you’re in, and the license plate number. As you call 911 emergency services, you can then tell the dispatcher all of that information to help police find you more quickly, according to Today national investigative correspondent Jeff Rossen, who tried out the app.
Uber also said that it’s piloting a feature that would automatically send all of that information, including the color of the Uber vehicle, directly to 911 responders. The feature is being tested in six cities, including Denver and Charleston, and will be rolled out elsewhere in the coming weeks.
The feature is one that reflects a broader effort by Uber to improve rider and driver safety on the roads. The company has been criticized for its handling of sexual assaults and harassment by some of its drivers and has said publicly that it will institute programs that enhance rider safety.
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The advanced emergency button Uber is testing in those select markets could prove extremely important. Instead of the standard feature, which requires riders to actually say the information the Uber app has collected, the more sophisticated button will send information without them ever speaking. It could prove important in moments when riders cannot speak.
According to Rossen, who tested the feature, it only took five minutes for police to find the vehicle after the emergency request was sent.