In 2014, a woman in India was raped by her Uber driver. (The company’s president of business in Asia Pacific was later fired for obtaining and sharing her medical records in an attempt to prove that the rape had been falsified by a competitor.) In 2014, an Uber driver was arrested after attacking a rider with a hammer. That same year, a driver was permanently banned from the app after assaulting a passenger and calling him a “dirty Mexican faggot.” The driver, it was later discovered, passed his Uber background check despite having served prison time for a felony conviction. In 2016, a New York man called Uber to say that he was “sexually assaulted, advanced and forced without consent” by his driver. The company rep who answered the phone reportedly laughed at him and hung up. In April, a rider in Colorado says her driver locked her into the car and told her he was taking her to a hotel. She says that she only escaped after pounding on the windows so loudly that some nearby construction workers noticed and the driver let her out. The list of horrifying allegations from Uber riders goes on and on and dates back years. But, hey, at least now you can dial 911 from inside the app.
On Tuesday Uber formally introduced a feature — it was announced back in April — that lets users place calls to emergency service without leaving the app. To do this, a user just has to tap the safety icon in the lower-right-hand corner of the app. Once a 911 dispatcher is on the line, the rider can tell them where they are by looking at the map. Uber is also testing a program in select cities where a rider’s location is shared automatically, TechCrunch reports. Uber director of product management Sachin Kansal said that the goal is to eventually roll this feature out to all users. Which seems helpful, since if you’re in distress in your car — say your driver is coming at you with a hammer — it might be a little difficult to accurately relay your location in a moving vehicle.