Uber Officially Rolls Out Its New Safety Toolkit

Uber began testing its safety center back in 2018.

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The city of London threatened to exile Uber over various safety concerns in 2017.
The city of London threatened to exile Uber over various safety concerns in 2017.
Image: Oli Scarff (Getty Images)

Ubers are an integral part of our transportation arsenal, whether we like it or not. The ride-share company announced today the overhaul of its safety toolkit, which now includes the ability to contact an ADT operator and text 911.

Uber is looking to make that ride you just called a little bit safer, with an updated safety toolkit. The company announced a redesigned version of their pre-existing safety features, with a user interface that features two new features. Passengers will now be able to connect with an ADT Safety Agent for “those less critical moments,” says Lead Safety Product Manager Rebecca Payne in a press release. The new toolkit also include the widespread rollout of text to 911, which Uber has been testing since 2019 in Los Angeles, Minnesota, and Indiana.

Uber’s updated Safety Toolkit.
Uber’s updated Safety Toolkit.
Image: Uber
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“When someone uses the text to 911 feature, the Uber app will pre-populate the initial message with vehicle details, location, and destination information, so you can quickly communicate that information to emergency dispatchers,” writes Payne. “While calling 911 is always preferred by first responders, texting can be a crucial way for users to request help discreetly, and we look forward to expanding this feature as more states and cities implement the technology.”

In 2017, London threatened to kick Uber out after the city cited safety concerns with the ride-sharing app, specifically referencing Uber’s approach to reporting crime. And even before that, in 2016, Uber (and rival Lyft) stopped operating in Austin, Texas over a battle that asked the companies to implement fingerprint-based background checks on their drivers. While it’s unknown whether any one incident was the straw that broke Uber’s back into integrating safety features, these situations did point to a massive issue in how the company ensured rider safety. Uber first began experimenting with a safety toolkit feature in 2018, which allowed users to share their trip details with up to five Trusted Contacts as well as contact 911 through the app itself. The company subsequently announced at that time a more rigorous screening process for drivers as well as an expanded Safety Advisory Board.

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Nevertheless, Uber has made it a casual occurrence to neglect our parent’s warnings of getting into cars with strangers, and it’s crucial for a company that is becoming so baked into our transportation infrastructure to continue to innovate safety features.