Speedy, sexist and smelly: Aussies dob in dodgy Uber drivers

 

Uber drivers who travel too fast, brake too hard, refuse to wear a face mask, or don't clean up their vehicle are targets for the company's latest safety feature, which will roll out in Australia today.

Racist, sexist and threatening comments will also be a target for the On-Trip Reporting Tool, with serious consequences for those who are caught.

The safety feature will arrive in Australia almost one year after Uber launched the tool in the US, and after the company launched its emergency alert tool, RideCheck, Down Under.

Uber Australia and New Zealand general manager Dom Taylor said the new tool was designed to address bad behaviour in Uber vehicles that was suffered by riders but never reported to the company so it could be addressed.

 

"We know that distraction is one of the key barriers in stopping reporting," Mr Taylor said.

"If I'm sitting in a car and I'm unimpressed that the driver is not wearing a mask or is making erratic turns, by the time I'm out of the car and on the way to dinner, I'm ready to order food (rather than report it). There's been a lot of under-reporting going on."

Unlike RideCheck, which was introduced to the Uber app last February to deal with emergency situations including car accidents, On-Trip Reporting will let riders record non-urgent safety issues that don't require police intervention.

A report can be filed from within the Uber app's 'Safety Toolkit' while still inside the car.

"It could be about things from braking too harshly to travelling too fast," he said.

"It could be stuff around hygiene, like the car isn't smelling the way they'd expect, it could be things like not wearing a mask when it's required, but not ultra serious safety issues - that's where emergency services need to be contacted."

Mr Taylor said feedback would be shared anonymously with drivers to help them improve their service but added that there would be a "quota of incidents" after which drivers would be temporarily suspended and face an in-person meeting.

An Uber spokeswoman said "inappropriate or discriminatory" remarks would be treated even more harshly, and could result in the suspension of the driver's account.

The US ride-share giant has ramped up its safety tools over the past two years after a series of assaults and the death of a 21-year-old student in America who mistakenly got into the wrong vehicle.

The Uber app now sends riders a notification to check the registration plate of their ride, as well as offering a shortcut to emergency services and the ability to share their location with a friend.

The On-Trip Reporting feature was first launched in the US in February last year, but Australia will be one of the first countries outside America to try to the tool.

Originally published as Uber asks Aussies to dob in smelly, risky drivers



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