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Uber adds passenger sexual assault ‘panic button’ to its app

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Ridesharing company Uber has added a panic alarm to their app in the United States so that riders have a quick way to contact 911 if they are attacked by the driver.

The company announced plans to introduce the feature nationwide last month. A number of Uber drivers have faced accusations of sex crimes for years.

“While no one should ever have to call 911 when using Uber, no form of transportation is 100 percent free of incidents,” CEO Dana Khosrowshahi said at the time. “If ever faced with an emergency situation, we want to help you get the help you need.”

In most US cities, the new feature will allow the company’s clients to share their location, which is tracked by the application, with emergency dispatchers. In the cities participating in a pilot program, including Denver, Charleston, Chattanooga, Naples, Tri-Cities, Louisville, and Nashville, the new service will automatically transfer location information and vehicle details, such as color, model, year and license plate number to first responders.

“Every second counts in an emergency,” Sachin Kansal, company’s Director of Safety Products, told ABC. “We want to make sure our users get help quickly with accurate information if faced with an emergency situation.”

In November 2017, two women filed a class-action suit against the company that claimed “thousands of female passengers have endured unlawful conduct by their drivers including rape, sexual assault, physical violence and gender-motivated harassment” due to poor vetting of drivers.

Last year, former Uber software engineer Susan Fowler claimed that the company’s female employees had experienced sexual harassment and discrimination. Those claims caused the departure of co-founder and CEO Travis Kalanick.

About Uber

Uber Technologies Inc. is a peer-to-peer ridesharing, food delivery, and transportation network company headquartered in San Francisco, California, with operations in 633 cities worldwide. Its platforms can be accessed via its websites and mobile apps.

The name “Uber” is a reference to the common (and somewhat colloquial) word “uber”, meaning “topmost” or “super”, and having its origins in the German word über, meaning “above”.

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