Uber rolls out new rider-safety tools amid sexual misconduct scrutiny

Uber is rolling out several new tools to make its ride-sharing service safer after the slaying of a college student who police said mistook her killer's car for an Uber and scrutiny of the firm's handling of sexual-misconduct claims.

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The safety features include a new ride-verification system, according to a blog post written by Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi. Riders will be able to make sure they’re getting in the right car if they opt-in to receive a four-digit PIN that they can give to their drivers before beginning a trip.

They will also have the option to report a safety issue to Uber while the ride is still going on -- as opposed to afterward -- as well as an emergency button that connects them to 911 via text, which will include information about the specific trip, driver and car. Uber also updated its real-time ID check, to make sure that the driver in the car is the same one registered with the company.

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The new features were unveiled just one day after The Washington Post published a report about how the company handles safety allegations, particularly claims of sexual misconduct.

According to the Post, the company’s Special Investigations Unit is told by Uber to protect the company from liability first, before looking out for passengers. The newspaper reported that Uber prevents investigators from going to the police with claims or advising victims to get legal counsel.

And even when the company kicks drivers off its platform, the information reportedly doesn’t get passed on to law enforcement or other ride-sharing companies, according to the Post.

Uber didn't immediately respond to FOX Business’ request for comment.

Last year, Congress members including former Democratic U.S. Rep. Joe Crowley of New York sought information about safety practices at ride-sharing firms including Uber following a CNN report that 103 Uber and 18 Lyft drivers had been accused of sexually abusing or assaulting passengers.

"We are horrified to think that our family, friends and constituents may be subject to sexual assault while using your service," they wrote. "It should be in our shared interest to ensure these spaces are measured by the highest standard in safety."


In April, Samantha Josephson, a student at the University of South Carolina, was killed after she got into a car in Columbia that she mistakenly thought was her Uber.  The man who was charged with her kidnapping and murder is Nathaniel David Rowland, who had no connection with the ride-sharing firm.