SAN FRANCISCO — In an effort to protect passengers, Uber has launched a “panic button” that’ll add a direct way for riders to call 911.
The feature, which was originally announced in April, was made live and fully operational across the U.S. Tuesday, the Verge reports. The emergency button is located in a new “safety center” menu that’s accessible on the home screen.
The button will give riders a quick way to contact first responders in case something goes wrong during their trip. Once users tap the button, they will be asked to confirm they meant to dial 911 before the call is put through to emergency dispatchers to minimize accidental dials.
The ridesharing company also announced a 911 integration pilot in a few select markets that allows a rider’s location and trip details to be automatically sent to the 911 dispatcher when used in-app. The feature is meant to account for the low rates of location accuracy by 911 dispatchers.
While the safety center features are aimed for passengers, Sachin Kansal, Uber’s director of product management, said a similar panic button will soon be added for drivers too. Kachal said he hopes the panic button will deter drivers and riders from behaving badly.
“We realize that a lot of situations and a lot of criminal activity arises when people think they’re not being watched,” Kansal said. “And we just want to say that we’re turning the lights on. Part of turning the lights on is providing these features to both sides and also make sure we’re making the entire community aware of the presence of these features.”
The safety features come after several incidents. Last year, the company was sued by a woman who was raped by an Uber driver in India after it was reported top executives had obtained and mishandled the woman’s medical records in an effort to discredit her.
In the U.S., nine women are suing the company, alleging that they have been sexually assaulted by drivers, according to CNET.