Uber rolls out new safety initiatives ahead of fall semester

News13 Digital First

CONWAY, SC (WBTW) – Uber announced new safety efforts Wednesday to keep drivers safe ahead of the new college semester.

The initiative has Uber rolling out new tech features and partnering with campus safety groups to keep riders informed.

“We want to make sure that everyone has the right tools and education and also keep it top of mind,” Uber spokesperson Kayla Whaling told News13. “This is going to be an education that will be sent out throughout the school year just as a continuous reminder for students.”

Starting sometime this fall, users can expect to see an additional graphic appear when their driver is arriving for pick up.

“When you’re looking at the app and looking at the map as it arrives, the graphic will raise, and it helps to reinforce to remind drivers to check that information prior to getting into a car,” Whaling said. “Verify the important information such as the license plate number, the make and model of the vehicle and then the driver.”

The app has given riders this info for some time now, but the update aims to make it more visible.

This comes just months after state lawmakers mandated drivers display their license plate numbers on their windshield. That change was in response to the USC student who was killed by a man posing as an Uber driver.

Haylie Beck, a junior at Coastal Carolina, says she relies on Uber for transportation but doesn’t always feel completely comfortable.

“I feel a little uncomfortable using Ubers by myself,” she said. “I just took an uber by myself for the first time last weekend.”

Many insist that the service is safe.

“The safeguards really are in place for this,” Jim Rugg said. He’s a Myrtle Beach area Uber driver, who frequents the airport. “I don’t see where they need to add anything to that. There’s not a whole lot they can do to improve that.”

He says that as long as riders are vigilant, they should be okay.

“It just boils down to the rider doing their due diligence,” Rugg said. “Don’t say their (the driver’s) name. Ask their name. And that driver should know their name. If those things don’t match, you don’t get in the car.”

Others are concerned there is too little regulation on ride-sharing services.

“There is a separate set of rules and regulations that Uber and Lyft do not have because these are purely private vehicles,” Paul Dierks said. He is a Lyft driver with a background in limousine service. “It’s a cowboy industry and its unregulated.”

Uber’s new initiative also has the company partnering with national campus safety groups, The International Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators (IACLEA) and the National Crime Prevention Council (NCPC.)

“Rideshare safety is top of the line, especially as they’re coming back to campus,” Whaling said. “We want to help provide the tools and educational materials about how they can be safe when traveling on and off-campus.”

She says the company plans on distributing guidelines to campus police and students throughout the school year.

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