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Uber adds panic button to its app

Uber adds panic button to its app
Highlights

Hyderabad was the second city which banned Uber Cabs following the brutal rape incident in New Delhi. In order to draw its customers back, Uber is introducing two new safety features for riders across the country. The San Francisco-based taxi alternative company says it will launch a ‘panic button’ in its ride-hailing app that allows riders to notify the police in case of an emergency,

Hyderabad was the second city which banned Uber Cabs following the brutal rape incident in New Delhi. In order to draw its customers back, Uber is introducing two new safety features for riders across the country. The San Francisco-based taxi alternative company says it will launch a ‘panic button’ in its ride-hailing app that allows riders to notify the police in case of an emergency, and a ‘safety net’ feature that will allow users to share trip details and their location with as many as five other people.

Uber says it is also creating a local team that will respond to reports by riders and will get a notification when the panic button is pressed. The company says the new features will be available on Wednesday. Uber did not say if the new features would be available in other countries, but said in an email that it would have more updates in the coming months.

Uber, valued at $40bn, lets passengers summon cars through an app in more than 250 cities around the world. It faces multiple legal and regulatory challenges as it expands in the US and abroad. An Uber passenger was allegedly raped by a driver in New Delhi in December, and sued the company in January.

The lawsuit alleges that Uber is not doing enough to keep passengers safe, and the company may also face charges if Indian prosecutors believe it misrepresented the safety of its services. The company says it plans to improve its safety programmes in 2015 and is looking for new ways to screen drivers. Apart from Hyderabad, Uber has been banned in New Delhi and the entire state of Karnataka. On its blog, Uber said the idea of a physical panic button wasn’t feasible because it doesn’t own the cabs.

It added that buttons would be vulnerable to wear and tear and said that if it and other operators were forced to put buttons in cars, passengers might get confused in an emergency. The company said it would support physical panic buttons if the owner of the vehicle were responsible for installing them and if the button called the police directly.

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