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Uber’s new app feature can detect when its drivers crash

Image credit: Dreamstime

Uber has said it will use the sensors in its drivers’ phones to detect when a car has crashed as the beleaguered ride-hailing firm battles for a new licence to continue operating in London.

The firm’s RideCheck feature will also track when a journey has been interrupted by a long stop and automatically message the driver and passengers involved.

The message will direct them to safety features in the Uber app, including a button connecting them to the emergency services. It is also introducing a discrimination button that will let drivers and passengers report abuse.

The new features have been announced just prior to the expiry of Uber’s temporary two-month licence to operate in London.

When Transport for London (TfL) issued the licence in September, it said it wanted more time to “scrutinise” Uber’s operating practices and wanted new conditions to ensure passenger safety.

Uber has been on rocky ground for the last few years, with TFL issuing it with a series of temporary licences in lieu of a more permanent solution over concerns that it wasn’t checking its drivers credential thoroughly enough; its failure to report criminal offences, and its use of Greyball software, which TFL said could be used to block regulatory bodies from gaining full access to the app and prevent officials from undertaking regulatory or law enforcement duties.

Uber insists it will investigate any incidents and could ban people from using its service.

Uber is also collaborating with the AA to produce a video to educate drivers on topics such as reading the road, speed, space management and how to drop off and pick up passengers safely.

The safety measures are being introduced in more than 40 cities and towns already served by Uber across the UK.

Jamie Heywood, Uber’s regional general manager, said: “There is nothing more important than the safety of our customers and the cities we serve.

“We are using our technology and partnering with the AA to raise the bar on safety, but we won’t stop there because when it comes to safety on our platform our work is never done.”

AA president Edmund King said: “It is pleasing to see a business focused on passenger transport raising the profile of road safety and looking to strive towards better driving standards on the roads.”

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