Uber Steps Up Security Efforts in Chicago Following Assault Allegations Against Drivers

The audits come on top of safety features recently added to the app

Ridesharing app Uber said it plans to set up security efforts in Chicago after two of its drivers were accused of sexual assault by their passengers.

On its blog, the San Francisco-based company says it will employ security specialists, including off-duty Chicago police officers to conduct monthly, real-time audits of Uber rides.

The audits come on top of safety features recently added to the app.

“Our existing and recently implemented safety practices here in Chicago,” the company said, “are all part of Uber’s global commitment to implementing new technologies to keep riders and drivers safe in every city.”

The "Safe Ride Checklist" implemented earlier this month reminds riders to match the license plate number listed on the app with the driver's vehicle and to make sure the name and photo of the driver matches those in the app.

Uber noted the app has a two-way rating system, GPS tracking, and shows riders a driver's information. The company also said drivers must pass a thorough background check.

Many regular Uber riders said they are already taking precautions when using the ride sharing service.

“I tend not to use it if I am traveling alone,” said rider Heather Graham. “I will use it if I am traveling in a group. I always try to err on the side of caution.”

For DeDandre Tillman, features like the ability to share your ETA with friends make sense.

“I don’t see the safety concern, but I like the idea,” he said. “As long as you can send it to your friends and it’s not an issue of it getting hacked by other people. That could be a safety issue for sure.”

Still, the security concerns have kept some people from using ridesharing services like Uber.

“I choose not to,” said Gerald Bennet. “I’m concerned about my safety getting in a cab in general. I wouldn’t use that service though.”

Some riders, however, said they would think about using it again now that Uber is putting greater emphasis on rider safety.

"We have more work to do," a statement from Uber read. "We are also working to improve communications with our riders and drivers because we care about the Chicagoans who put their trust in us every day."

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