Could New Tech Make Ride-Hailing Safer?

Hundreds of taxi drivers paraded down Lincoln Street while honking their horns in protest near Uber headquarters. They are calling for the regulation of services such as Uber-x.
Hundreds of taxi drivers paraded down Lincoln Street while honking their horns in protest near Uber headquarters. They are calling for the regulation of services such as Uber-x. –ARAM BOGHOSIAN/ THE BOSTON GLOBE

It is no surprise that ride-hailing companies such as Uber and Lyft have been faced with some security scrutiny over the past few months. In December, a Boston Uber driver faced charges for assaulting a passenger in Cambridge and an Uber driver in India was accused of rape.

Uber Chicago just announced that to increase security, they will be contracting police officers and other safety officials “to conduct real-time audits on Uber rides.’’

AsterRIDE, a ride-hailing service that currently serves Phoenix and Orlando, has a tech feature that could give you and your family members some peace of mind.

First off, AsterRIDE functions like Uber Black, which uses livery vehicles. All cars used by AsterRIDE are commercially insured, city-licensed vehicles where the driver has had a nationwide background check. AsterRIDE CEO Seth Rudin said they partner with local cab companies and the cab drivers download their app.

Advertisement

The Washington Post reported that apps like this are:

“Serving established taxi fleets that realize they need to replace their outdated phone-based dispatch system. These companies advertise their compliance with regulations as a feature, not a bug.’’

Through a feature called InstaAlert, AsterRIDE riders can use the app to give a family member or friend all of the information about your ride (including your exact location).

Rudin said he saw people getting in rideshare cars and taking a photo of the car and texting it to someone. “We can do that for you,’’ he said.

“If you turn on InstaAlert you can alert family and friends,’’ Rudin said. “And if they accept it they will be notified when you book a ride and when you are picked up.’’

But, that’s not all. They also receive the car and driver information, license plate number, taxi registration ID, pick up address, pick up time, and destination. That person can, along with the person in the car, track the ride to ensure the driver is going where you need him or her to take you, Rudin said.

“Then when [the passenger] gets to the destination, the passenger is asked if they reached the destination safety,’’ Rudin said. “And then [the family or friend] receives an email.’’ If the contact person does not receive an email, AsterRIDE sends them a note to call the passenger or to call the authorities.

Advertisement

Uber has a feature where you can share you ETA with your friends or family so they know when you are set to arrive, but they are trying to look for ways passengers could communicate with a family or friend in the event of an emergency during the ride. Uber also created a checklist for what riders should do before getting into a car.

AsterRIDE is expected to begin service soon in Seattle, Chicago, and Los Angeles. Rudin said they plan to come to Boston this summer.

Loading Comments...