Uber CEO marks his first anniversary with new safety features

Dara Khosrowshahi marked his one-year anniversary at Uber by reinforcing how rider safety is a top priority for the company.

At a press event in New York City on Wednesday, the CEO unveiled new Uber safety features such as Ride Check, a GPS-powered tool that uses a smartphone’s sensors to detect an unexpected stop or an impact during a crash.

If a crash is suspected, a prompt will appear on both rider and driver phones’ along to order another ride or use the 9-11 emergency call button. Uber made the in-app 9-11 feature available earlier this year to riders but it’s now accessible for drivers.

The company said it plans to expand Ride Check’s capabilities, such as flagging when a long, unexpected stop occurs during a trip.

In addition, Uber is adding a “hands free” feature for drivers so they can accept trips via voice commands. Exact pick-up and drop-off locations will also be removed from drivers’ trip record history and receipts to protect rider privacy. The app is getting better security, too: Riders can now enable two-factor authentication to keep their data extra protected.

The announcements are a reminder of how much the company has come in terms of rider security, and how far it has yet to go. In April, a CNN investigation found at least 103 Uber drivers in the United States who have been accused of sexually assaulting or abusing their passengers in the past four years. The drivers were arrested, are wanted by police, or have been named in civil suits related to the incidents.

Related: Uber’s CEO one year in: The one thing I wish I had fixed sooner

Following the investigation, Uber announced several changes such as it will no longer force individuals with sexual harassment or assault claims into arbitration.

“While it might not look so good on the P&L, it forces us to stand behind or words and forces us as a company to get better and better as it relates to safety,” Khosrowshahi said in an interview with CNN last week. “It’s been a big step for us as a company.”

Uber also said it will publish a “safety transparency report” to publicly put numbers behind how many sexual assaults and other incidents occur on its platform. But it has yet to do so.

“We haven’t nailed down an exact timeline, but we’re working toward [one] sometime next year,” Khosrowshahi told CNN.


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