Uber has moved swiftly to detail new safety features that will help passengers and drivers in a bid to win over licensing authorities around the UK. The controversial app is currently facing several threats in relation to where it can operate after it’s high profile licence rejection in London.
Tom Elvidge, General Manager of Uber UK announced a series of changes which includes:
24/7 telephone support for riders and drivers
“Whenever there’s an issue like an incorrect cancellation fee, riders and drivers alike often find it’s easy and simple to get it sorted through the app. But drivers and riders have told us that they would like the option to give us a call, especially if something more serious happens. “We’ve heard this feedback loud and clear and we’re now acting on it. For the first time in the UK, we’re going to launch 24/7 telephone support for both riders and drivers.
“We’ll be training and recruiting additional staff, including at our existing customer support centre in Limerick, before going live with this new service later this year.” Reporting serious incidents to the police “We’re changing our approach to reporting serious incidents to the police. While we previously encouraged and supported individuals to report to the police serious incidents related to a trip booked through our app, we will now pro-actively make the reports. “Under our new approach we will pass directly to the police information about any serious incident reported to us by riders. If a driver is a victim of a serious incident we will also report it to the police if the driver wants us to do so on their behalf. “This policy is already live in London and we will continue to work closely with the Metropolitan Police to enhance public safety in the capital. And we plan to roll it out across the UK after discussions with other police forces. “We are also conducting a review of all previous serious complaints in order to ensure that there are no outstanding issues.” Driver licence details “Every driver who uses our app in the UK has been through a licensing process with a local authority, which includes a background check. Our app already gives riders lots of details about their licensed driver – from the make, model and registration number model of their car to the driver’s name, photo and rating. “From next month, we will give riders across the UK the licensing authority and private hire licence number of their driver in both their electronic receipt and on their booking confirmation. This means passengers can more easily raise any issues with the driver’s licensing authority as well as with Uber. ‘Share my trip’ for drivers “We’ve heard from drivers that they’d sometimes like to be able to share their whereabouts with a friend or loved one when they’re out on the road. “That’s why, in a similar way to how riders can already share a live map of their trip with someone they know, drivers will now be able to do so as well. “Our new feature, recently rolled out in the UK, gives drivers a way to let their friends or family members know not just their whereabouts, but also when to expect them home. This means extra peace of mind for everyone. National licensing database “In addition to these new safety measures we have long supported a more joined-up approach to licensing across the UK. Local councils have a vital role to play in keeping the public safe since they are responsible for licensing all private hire and taxi drivers and vehicles. The challenge is that there are over 340 local councils in the UK – each making their own decisions and often not communicating these to other councils. “In order to ensure consistent licensing decisions are being made across the country we would like to see a national register of licence revocations and refusals. That’s why we are backing the Licensing of Taxis and PHVs (Safeguarding and Road Safety) Bill currently being proposed by Daniel Zeichner MP. “In the absence of a national licensing database, Uber recently introduced a new process that helps to improve transparency and consistent application of council licensing decisions. We work with local councils to check whether drivers they have refused to licence are driving elsewhere in the UK on our app.” Driver hours feature “Our new driver hours feature has now been rolled out across the UK. The feature means drivers have to go offline for six straight hours after 10 hours of time on a trip with a passenger or on their way to pick up a passenger after confirming a trip request. After the six hours, drivers can go online again to receive trip requests. “While drivers only spend an average of 30 hours a week logged into our app, we want to do our part to ensure they don’t drive tired. We believe this is an industry first and are not aware of any other private hire operator in the UK that has introduced such a limit.”