Chilling reason for major Uber change
EXCLUSIVE: Every Uber ride will soon arrive with an alert that is hard to ignore.
The ride-sharing giant will today launch push notifications reminding riders to check they're getting into the right car to protect them from violent attacks.
The safety addition will be rolled out across Australia following the death of a 21-year-old student in the US who got into a car she mistakenly thought was her Uber ride, and after another woman was kidnapped and raped in similar circumstances in London.
Uber Australia and New Zealand operations head Dom Taylor said the risk of riders getting into a stranger's car by mistake were increasing "as the industry gets bigger," and Uber was launching the notifications as part of a larger safety campaign.
"Sadly, there has been a couple of instances all around the world where things have gone wrong," he said.
"The idea here is around checking with riders to make sure we get them into the right cars with the right drivers. We want that to occur so the safety features in all available trips are available as soon as possible."
The push notifications would appear on rider's smartphones "as the rider was moving towards the car," Mr Taylor said, and would detail the car's registration details, the make and colour of the car, and a reminder to check the driver's photo from the app against their appearance.
An extra banner reminding riders to check approaching cars would also appear in the Australian app for a limited time, he said, and would be used during high-demand times, such as NRL Grand Final Day or New Year's Eve.
The extra security measures will become one of several added to the Uber app in Australia over the last year, including a shortcut to triple-0 and the ability to share your location with a friend.
The pre-trip alerts follow the alleged murder of South Carolina student Samantha Josephson in April, who mistakenly got into a car that was not her Uber ride. Her body was found hours later.
A 28-year-old man was also jailed for nine years in January after being found guilty of kidnapping, robbing, and raping a London woman who accidentally got into his vehicle, thinking it was her Uber ride.
The new notifications will be rolled out to all Australian Uber users over the next two weeks.