Uber rolls out new safety features for drivers, including new feature in Los Angeles

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Drivers on the ride-hailing platform Uber will now have greater protection from false accusations, unfair ratings and unruly riders thanks to a new slate of safety features unveiled by the company Monday.

Dara Khosrowshahi, Uber’s CEO, said the new safety features were made with the interest of the company’s vast network of drivers and couriers in mind.

“We are improving the driver experience to help keep them safer on the road and give them a louder voice in deactivation decisions,” Khosrowshahi said. “From trip recording, more transparent deactivations, and expanded rider verification–we’re with them every mile of the way.”

Uber called it “an unfortunate reality” that riders might report false issues about a driver in hopes of receiving a refund. New systems are now being put in place to prevent that, the company said.

Uber is also rolling out a new feature that allows drivers accused of being under the influence of drugs to voluntarily take a drug test and participate in a program to prove those claims false.

The program is being administered through the American health care company Labcorp, and Uber says it will cover the cost of the testing regardless of the outcome.

Drivers who have had their accounts suspended will now be informed of the reason for their suspension and will have new tools to review and appeal the decision, the company said.

Additionally, Uber is expanding a pilot program that allowed drivers to use their standard smartphone camera to record trips.

“Record my Ride” is a new in-app feature for Uber drivers in select cities that will allow them to use their phones like a dashcam.

The pilot program has now been expanded to include the cities of Atlanta, Denver, Dallas, Minneapolis and “select drivers” in Los Angeles, Uber said. The program has included select drivers in New York City, Louisville and Cincinnati since its launch.

Earlier this year, Uber launched a feature that allowed both drivers and riders the ability to record the audio of a trip. Since then, the company says it’s been looking for ways to incorporate video recording into the equation, without forcing drivers to purchase their own devices, which can be both expensive and hard to set up.

“Every recording is encrypted and stored directly on drivers’ devices, and nobody—not Uber, not riders, not drivers—can access it unless a driver chooses to send it to us for review,” Uber said in a news release. “We believe both of these recording features will help promote safety and allow us to more quickly and fairly resolve any incidents that may arise.”

And perhaps the best piece of news for beleaguered Uber drivers, the company says it will “significantly expand” verification of riders, including confirming their account details against “trusted data sources or an ID document.”

Drivers will be shown that they are picking up verified riders, Uber said, which is in addition to ongoing efforts to crack down on anonymous riders using fraudulent payment methods.

For more on the safety improvements and other app updates coming for Uber drivers, click here.

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