Uber has begun its test run of the new panic button service in India. This new safety feature will be available in-app only as a means to alert police if the rider feels their lives may be in danger or that the driver is acting suspiciously. This comes in response to a recent passenger in New Delhi who accused her driver of raping her back in December.
There were calls for bans on the company if they did not implement a panic button, physically, in each and every cab. Uber claims that if they attempted to put an actual button in the cabs that they would be subject to failure from wear and tear, increasing the risk of malfunctioning.
Ultimately, this response in India may likely be echoed to all of their operations worldwide in the coming months. Along with the emergency alert signal to the police, the panic button app also has an option to share location and destination details with up to five other people, for a safety-in-numbers approach.
Will this be enough for Uber to reverse the damage done to their image? Operating in over 50 cities worldwide, Uber carries many regulation troubles as well as the safety issues presented. 2015 is supposed to be their year of reprieve and upping the ante on safety protocols. For now, though, Uber drivers are not only a risky bet for the passengers, they are at a risk for themselves, as they use their own cars, their own insurance plans, and pay a large percentage of their income to Uber, without any minimal employee benefits like social security.
Uber is undoubtedly a useful service for many people in the big cities. It’s cost-effective and often more reliable service than traditional taxi cabs. But the company needs to continue to make strides in their regulatory practices like with Uber’s background checking process; they use a seven year history standard, which is above the typical five year standard of most employers.
It’s steps like these that will help them reverse the image of them attempting to skirt regulation or sacrifice proper safety protocol for bigger profit margins. Similar grievances can be found with services by Amazon’s workforce, as we are moving into a new realm of temp labor pools, where workers are more at risk for themselves and for the consumer.