Uber adds Triple-0 call feature in safety upgrade to app

Assault claims: A feature in an upgrade to the Uber app released recently allows riders and drivers to call Triple-0 in the event of an emergency.
Assault claims: A feature in an upgrade to the Uber app released recently allows riders and drivers to call Triple-0 in the event of an emergency.

Uber have added what some have dubbed a “panic button" to its app in the wake of assault allegations levelled at drivers.

The company said the changes are aimed at protecting both passengers and drivers.

An upgrade to the app introduces a “Safety Toolkit”, represented by a shield icon at the bottom right corner of the map that displays on the phone during a trip.

Part of the “toolkit” includes an “emergency assistance button”.

Pressing the button will allow the passenger or driver to quickly call 000. The app will also display the location of the car on the map, as well as a written address so the caller can tell emergency services where they are.

Another part of the update involves the option of sending real-time details of your trip to several contacts chosen in advance.

The toolkit also includes access to a “safety centre” that includes more information on driver background checks and insurance coverage.

An Uber spokeswoman did not respond to questions of whether the app upgrades were in response to a rise in assaults by Uber drivers in Australia and overseas.

While there have been no known assaults by Uber drivers in the Illawarra, they have occurred elsewhere in the state.

Pressing the button will allow the passenger or driver to quickly call 000.

One aspect of a new safety upgrade to the Uber app

In August this year 37-year-old Uber driver Onur Dedeoglu was charged over allegations of sexual assault of a passenger in Bondi.

Police allege the man raped his 17-year-old passenger in the car while she was asleep.

He was arrested and released on bail to appear again in court on October 25.

Last month, Uber driver Asim Zulfiqar claimed he was assaulted by a passenger he picked up at Kings Cross.

“There is nothing more critical than the safety of the people we serve,” the Uber spokeswoman said.

“At Uber, we are committed to being part of the solution when incidents take place, by working with safety experts and leading organisations in Australia.

"In addition, we are continuing to build cutting-edge technology and features to help improve safety for riders and drivers on the app.”

The Uber spokeswoman said all drivers had their criminal history checked out before being allowed onto the platform and that all trips were tracked with GPS technology.