It looks like ride sharing giants, Uber and Lyft, have reacted strongly to the recent death of Samantha Josephson. Josephson, a University of South Carolina student, was kidnapped and killed in late March after taking a ride with what she thought was an Uber she ordered. Consequently, just this week Uber and Lyft have both added new safety features and rules.
Uber is starting their Campus Safety Initiative. This program will include new features added into the app. As of this moment, those features are being tested, but they remind riders to check the license plate and make and model of the car. Moreover, they ask that you verify the driver’s name and check his picture before entering into the car.
This test is happening in South Carolina but will spread to the rest of the country soon.
Lyft, on the other hand, which went public on March 29, also has instituted continuous background checks for drivers. Uber had already had this policy in place since the previous year. Moreover, Lyft has improved its identity authentication system for drivers. It combines driver’s license verification along with photo identity authentication. Consequently, this more rigorous system should prevent driver identity fraud.
Uber is not joking around with their new system of safety precautions. In fact, before taking a ride the system reminds the riders to check the vitals of their booked ride three times. One, a banner appears at the top when the ride is first ordered. Two, the app asks that you check the car license plate and car details. Finally, there’s three, which is a push notification that comes just before the car arrives.
Additionally, Uber is setting up dedicated pickup zones in certain parts of the college town. They will begin to extend this courtesy to other campuses too. Even with all the safety measures, Uber is alerting investors prior to its IPO that a soon-to-be-released safety report could be harmful to the brand. In fact, a CNN investigation on safety with ride-sharing discovered that passengers accused 103 Uber drivers of sexual assault or abuse.