Uber Announces New Safety Features

Uber Announces New Safety Features

Uber riders will hopefully be able to feel a little bit safer with Uber’s newly announced additional safety features.

A post in Uber’s Newsroom outlines Uber’s plans for making their ridesharing service safer for everyone. One new feature they describe is a centralized safety area in the app. Riders will be able to access these safety features on the home screen during a ride, so they won’t have to hunt around for safety tips and assistance.

Riders were already able to use their Share My Trip feature, which lets them message contacts to tell them they’re using Uber and to link them to a map of their ride. But according to Uber’s post, they will also be letting riders add “Trusted Contacts” they can choose from when sharing their status. They’ll be able to add as many as five people to notify about rides. This simply makes things quicker and easier. Also, users will be able to change their settings to a kind of night mode that specifically alerts people about ride statuses when someone is using Uber at night.

Uber also announced they would be adding a new Safety Center. This area of the app will give information about how to stay safe. Uber worked with law enforcement and other organizations to put together this information.

A huge part of the new features involves making 911 calls. Uber will soon be adding a button users can press to be connected with 911, making the process a little quicker during an emergency. And when using this feature, you’ll see exactly where you are. They’re also testing a feature that will automatically send location information to 911, as well as working to make 911 communication quicker and more efficient.

They also mention they’ll soon be making driver screening a little more intense. Uber already had screenings in place, but now they plan to rescreen drivers every year and work to find out sooner about new criminal issues with drivers. On top of all of this, they’re working on their Safety Advisory Board.

In the past, there have been stories of dangerous situations that occurred during Uber rides. Since strangers are riding in vehicles with each other, there’s bound to be some risk involved for both drivers and riders. Uber’s previous safety features were helpful, but their newest features will hopefully make the process smoother when protecting yourself during a ride. And with more driver screenings, perhaps some dangerous situations can be avoided altogether.

For more about Uber’s safety plans, take a look at their news article.

Uber Introducing ‘Uber Health’

Uber Introducing ‘Uber Health’

Uber is getting in the medical transport field with their newly-introduced Uber Health ride service.

You’ve probably heard some crazy stories about people calling for an Uber when they needed to go to the hospital. Some people have been calling for a ride instead of calling an ambulance, because ambulance rides are so expensive and Uber rates are much more affordable by comparison.

Well, Uber Health won’t address the issue of costly ambulance rides or injured people calling for an Uber driver, but the company is still getting involved in the medical field in a different way. While people are desperately trying to cut back on their medical bills by hailing an Uber instead of calling 911, many other people can’t make it to their basic medical appointments because they don’t have a vehicle or any other form of transportation, and they also can’t afford to shell out the money up front for a ride.

Uber Health lets healthcare organizations set up rides for their clients so people don’t have to worry about how they’re going to make it there. According to the Uber Health website, the purpose of the new service is to make it easier for clients to get to their destinations so there aren’t as many missed appointments.

Organizations can set up a ride in advance or at the time it’s needed. Then the client will get a text or call to provide the ride details, followed by another text or call when the driver is actually headed there to pick them up. Organizations are billed monthly for their clients’ rides, and they can get detailed information on the rides, including cost and how long the ride lasted.

For riders, this means they don’t have to enter their card information into the Uber app or, actually, use the Uber app at all. Riders using Uber Health don’t even have to send or receive texts to use the service, since they can get their information through a phone call. This means people who aren’t particularly tech-savvy can get a ride to their appointment through the rideshare service.

Uber Health’s website notes that there’s “HIPAA-trained support” for the people organizing the rides. A rider’s data is encrypted, and drivers don’t see that a requested ride is coming through Uber Health. This means there’s a high level of privacy with Uber Health, which is necessary in the medical field.

Many healthcare organizations are already using Uber Health. To find out if your organization is using it, contact your healthcare provider. And in the meantime, learn more about Uber Health on their website.

Uber Hid Hack That Exposed User Data

Uber Hid Hack That Exposed User Data

Uber is in the news right now for being hacked—over a year ago. The company is dealing with the fallout of hiding this hack and going to great lengths to keep it secret.

According to Bloomberg, about 57 million people had their data stolen by the hackers—this includes riders and drivers. The affected people are not from one area; this hack reached all over the world. Some of the data that was stolen is users’ names, driver’s license numbers, and contact information (email addresses and phone numbers) for people who used Uber. This attack occurred in October of last year.

Uber is now letting people go as more details emerge. It seems that Uber actually paid the hackers to get rid of the stolen data and hide the fact that the hack even happened. The hackers were paid $100,000. At least two of the people involved in keeping the hack under wraps have already been removed from the company.

More is coming for Uber, though, as they’re already being investigated. Plus, as expected, a class-action suit is already in the works. Many are understandably upset to learn that Uber did everything it could to keep the news about the hack secret.

Right now, it’s hard to find out who has been impacted by this hack. But just in case, if you use Uber, you should certainly take a few steps to make sure you’re not negatively affected. Be sure to do the following:

  • Change your Uber password
  • Keep a close eye on your account
  • Keep watch for any news about how to find out who was affected, either from a news outlet or Uber email (in case they decide to email people who were affected)

More news about this hack seems to be coming out regularly. Since Uber hid this attack for so long, it’s completely possible there is more to learn about the breach from last year. Keep an eye out for Uber in the news, and in the meantime, just keep a close watch on your accounts.

Uber Lets Riders Add Multiple Stops to Route

Uber Lets Riders Add Multiple Stops to Route

Uber hasn’t even been around for a decade yet, and it’s still already a pretty firmly established option for getting from Point A to Point B. The popular transportation company has brought a lot of convenience for riders in the cities it’s active in, and despite setbacks (negative press, issues with some of its policies, bans in certain cities, et cetera), it’s still massively popular. The list of cities you can find Uber in just keeps growing, and it doesn’t seem ready to stop yet. Uber makes it really easy to use its app, and often it’s cheaper for riders than other options, like the typical cab. However, one small irritant when using Uber in the past has been that if you wanted to call an Uber and go to more than one stop (Point A to Point B to Point C), it was a frustrating hassle. Now, however, Uber has finally integrated a way to add multiple stops to your trips when you call for a ride.

When making more than one stop with Uber before, riders had to inform the Uber driver after they had already been picked up and were in the car with them. The driver would then have to figure out how to get to each place while they were driving. This was sometimes confusing for newer Uber drivers. It also added a layer of inconvenience if the address had strange spelling or if the rider didn’t have any idea where the first stop actually was. And it could be unfortunate for drivers and riders alike if someone stayed at a stop for too long—drivers would have to simply sit and idle, while riders would have to pay a bit extra, because the clock was supposed to be kept running while at each stop. For any of these reasons, some drivers could become annoyed if a rider asked to add another stop to their trip.

Now, though, Uber has finally caught up to Lyft in this area, making it easy to add additional stops (which Lyft has had in their app for about a year now). If you need to run into the grocery store really quickly on the way to a Christmas party, you can program that into your route before the driver even gets there to pick you up. You can even add two extra stops if you’d like, which is an added bonus. Adding an extra stop (or two) is simple. In the app, there is a plus sign ‘+’ next to the “Where To?” box. When you touch the plus sign, you can select “Add a Stop” and enter the location, then “Add a Stop” again if you are adding a second one. Then you just tap “Save” and don’t have to worry about it again. You are supposed to keep your stops to less than three minutes, but this can certainly be doable if you just need to run grab a bag of snacks or pick up something you left at work before arriving at your actual destination. If you use Uber, the ability to add multiple stops is just a nice added convenience that can make all the different trips you need to make much more efficient.

Self-driving cars: coming to an area near you sooner than you think

Self-driving cars: coming to an area near you sooner than you think

In early June, House Energy and Commerce Republicans began work on legislation to introduce to Congress June 20th that will clarify the role of the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration in the regulation of Autonomous Vehicles.

That’s right. Robot cars. And before you roll your eyes, let me remind you that they are already among us. Google-owned company Waymo has been testing AVs for years. Apple, Tesla, BMW, Volkswagen, GM, Ford, and Nissan are all racing to get self-driving cars into the public market. Volvo is partnered with Uber to make driverless ride-sharing a thing—though if you ask me, you need at least 2 people to share a ride.

But you may not be able to go straight to hands-free: the term “autonomous” has levels. The NHTSA’s Certification of Automated Driving Systems (ADS) goes from 1-5, with cars at level 1 requiring an alert human operator, and a level 5 vehicle requiring nothing other than navigation input from a passenger.

For AVs to hit the road, they must demonstrate safety at the same level, or greater than, traditional vehicles. NHTSA has issued an exemption from FMVSS (which requires brake pedals and steering wheels, among other things) for 2,500 test vehicles. This sounds like a lot, but if you consider the billions of hours required to be driven to demonstrate safety, 2,500 vehicles aren’t enough. One of the proposals on the table raises the exemption to 100,000 cars.

Some companies, like Tesla and Google, already have self-driving cars in some cities, and the benefits of widely available, fully autonomous cars could be huge for the elderly, the disabled, and the public transportation sector, not to mention reducing intoxicated driving deaths. However, you can’t regulate AVs like regular cars. So far, states have had to figure it out on their own. Maybe that won’t be the case much longer.

What is being proposed?

Many of the AV  proposals currently being discussed are geared toward allowing exemptions of current safety features requirements (like brake pedals and steering wheels) to allow testing, develop a framework for cross-industry information sharing (to avoid making the same mistake twice), and begin development of technology geared toward helping underserved populations (such as the elderly and the disabled).

One thing is clear: legislators from both sides of the House want to get self-driving cars on the road. However, how to regulate them may not be unanimously agreed upon.

Having a federal standard for AV manufacture and operation is going to be the major determining factor in how soon car manufacturers can move forward with tests and, possibly, production. If every state is allowed to impose regulations, driving an AV across state lines could pose a problem.

However, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has been reluctant to impose many standards that might slow development of budding technology, leaving AV largely unregulated for the moment. NHTSA mainly oversees licensing, registration, and road maintenance currently, not vehicle safety.

There is a lot of excitement surrounding this issue right now, and I can see why. Driverless cars may be coming to an area near you sooner than you think—for that matter, public transportation may be coming to an area near you (I live in a place where you can drive, or you can walk. End of list).

Can you see yourself in a car without a steering wheel? Or does the idea make you nervous? Tweet at me! @easyinternetnow, or @willreadforfood.