Give a drunk adult a Bop It! — you know, that toy that commands you to pull/press/twist/smack its various appendages, in sequence — and he will not win. But he will try again. And again. Uber is hoping that a Bop It! in the backseat will distract intoxicated passengers for the duration of the ride. Long enough that they don’t assault their drivers.
In an experiment in North Carolina, the Guardian reports, Uber will be leaving Bop It! toys in the backseats of its cars, the idea being that drunken riders will be so busy saying how much they loved the 1990s that they won’t get aggressive. A Bop It! can be extremely engrossing for those playing with it, and at least as annoying for people who are not.
In fact, this possibly harebrained idea masks a real problem: Uber drivers have been getting beaten up. Just last week, a video of the former Taco Bell executive Benjamin Golden trying to smash his driver’s head through a window went viral, and it’s far from being the first of its kind. (In a move that defines “chutzpah,” Golden filed a $5 million lawsuit against the driver for, among other things, “intentional infliction of emotional distress.”) “An intoxicated rider who is engaged in something interesting is less likely to be irritable and aiming aggression at the driver,” Joe Sullivan, Uber’s chief security officer, told the Guardian.
This is merely Uber’s most recent effort to make riding in its freelance vehicles safer for both passenger and driver. In Seattle, Uber has experimented with mirrors on the backs of the front seats, thinking that riders will curtail bad behavior if they can see themselves. The company has also recently created ways for riders to gamify their rides, giving the company their complete Uber-attention. Uber also announced that it’s monitoring the gyrometers in drivers’ phones to see whether a driver is speeding or braking too hard.
It is unclear whether passengers will be receiving Bop It!, Bop It Extreme, Bop It Blast, Bratz Bop It, or Bop It Extreme 2.