Uber Launches New Safety Features as It’s Being Sued by Assault Victims

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Photo: Spencer Platt (Getty)

It’s one of those horrors that most men don’t think about but women regularly have to.

Three weeks ago, a man was charged with murdering Samantha Josephson, a University of South Carolina student, who may have thought the killer’s car was an Uber. Today, the Silicon Valley ride-sharing giant announced a set of new safety features and programs.

Uber’s actions come at the end of a long road, too late for many victims among their customers. On Twitter, #WhatsMyName has gained ground in recent weeks, an effort to get everyone in habit of asking potential drivers “What’s my name?” before taking a ride, as legitimate drivers will know your name.

The parents of Josephson, the South Carolina student, launched WhatsMyName.org to elevate ride-share safety.

One week after the attack on Josephson, three women say they were raped by men posing as Uber drivers. The women are now suing the company for what they believe to be the company’s failure to warn riders of the dangers they knew existed. Men posing as Uber drivers have reportedly attacked dozens of women in the past few years.

Uber’s newly announced efforts start on its app, where Uber will send push alerts reminding riders to check the license plate, car brand, and driver photo before getting in. The company says it’s also working with schools, starting with the University of South Carolina, to establish pickup zones that are well-lit, heavily trafficked, and have law enforcement nearby.

Uber’s Campus Safety Initiative also includes a campus rides program to provide service for students during hours when other transportation options aren’t available.

The company is also launching an awareness campaign including emails with instructions on checking rides, campus education, and a “bystander intervention” push “to look out for each other and help prevent gender-based violence before it happens,” as the company’s blog explains it.

Some Uber and Lyft cars have lighted windshield logos that can change color to match information in a passenger’s app. South Carolina lawmakers proposed a law requiring these icons in all ride-share vehicles.

Between all the various efforts, maybe, eventually, we’ll find a way to keep ride-share users from getting attacked.



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