Uber Has a Creative New Way To Distract Drunk Passengers
This story has been updated to reflect Uber’s response.
Uber may be trying some unusual ways to protect its drivers from drunk passengers.
As concerns over driver safety have increased over the past few months, the ride service is reportedly piloting one solution in the backseats of cars in Charlotte, N.C.: the ’90s toy Bop It.
The Bop It, which instructs the user through a fast-paced series of manipulations (“Bop it! Twist it!”), might distract drunk passengers from harassing their drivers. “An intoxicated rider who is engaged in something interesting is less likely to be irritable and aiming aggression at the driver,” Joe Sullivan, Uber’s chief security officer, told The Guardian. An Uber spokeswoman confirmed that the Bop It initiative was Uber-led and not created by Charlotte drivers.
Uber has fallen under the spotlight this past year after a number of dangerous confrontations. In one November incident, a drunk passenger assaulted his driver after being asked to leave the car—an altercation ending in the driver pulling out and using his pepper spray. Just a few days later, a passenger who appeared to be drunk punched his driver and damaged his vehicle.
Uber is also piloting a new safety mechanism that will track drivers’ speed and acceleration, so that it can verify feedback that complains about speeding drivers. “If the feedback is accurate, then we can get in touch with the driver,” Sullivan wrote in an Uber press release. “And if it’s not, we could use the information to make sure a driver’s rating isn’t affected.”