Looks like Uber has finally learned its lesson, i.e. in order to run its services in India, it will have to comply with government issued safety rules. As a result, the $41 Billion valued car-hailing service said that it will provide an in-app panic button and journey/location sharing service to its users from February 11 so that they can dodge the situations that they are not supposed to be in.
This move comes after the arrest of an Uber driver for allegedly raping a 27 year old woman passenger on her way back to home. The incident raised nationwide distrust against Uber’s operating procedures and systems in India. Government found that Uber skipped a number of background verifications and was somehow unsafe for the pubic. Eventually, Uber was banned in Delhi in December last year following the public outrage.
Following Government’s serious tone, Uber now seems to operate as it is expected to be. After being out of action for almost six weeks, Uber marked a return to Indian capital’s roads by applying for a license under Delhi Government’s freshly passed Radio Taxi Scheme.
If it had not complied with the safety and background check procedures, Uber would have lost its last chance to operate in the country. Uber will now perform a stringent background check on its drivers and maintain a team for emergency situations. The new safety features have been added to Indian territory first because Uber still has feet in hot waters following the rape incident. These will be infused to Uber’s operations in other countries soon.
According to Uber, adding a physical panic button was out of options since the drivers use multiple taxi app services and would unnecessarily conceive agitation.
Uber said in a blog post-
In a situation of distress the rider would have to pick the correct operator’s panic button to be able to get help on time. [In a car that works with India’s four top taxi app services] that’s 25 percent chance of success; and a decision that has to be made and executed in a split-second, if at all.
Under Uber’s current re-commencement of operations, it is only allowing driver-partners who have undergone re-verification of their Police clearance in the last six weeks to get back on the platform. For an additional layer of screening, Uber is also implementing independent background checks on all driver partners, plus vehicle documentation reviews.
Uber also seems to be working aggressively to provide its drivers with perks, so as to lure more into its service, which despite recent incidents, continues to gain popularity in India. Last week, it announced its partnership with Intuit Inc. to bring more transparency to its business model and offer a clear statistics to its drivers about their earnings and taxes.