The ride-hailing company will also constantly monitor criminal arrests to keep its riders safe. The changes were announced by a new CEO.
Uber will do annual criminal background checks on its U.S. drivers and hire a company that constantly monitors criminal arrests as it tries to keep riders safe, the Associated Press reports. The move announced Thursday is one of several actions taken by the ride-hailing company under new CEO Dara Khosrowshahi, who said that the changes aren’t being done to polish the company’s image, which has been tarnished by driver misbehavior and a long string of other embarrassing failings. “The first thing that we want to do is really change Uber’s substance, and the image may follow,” he told AP. “The announcements that we’re making are just a step along the way of making Uber fundamentally safer for drivers and riders.”
Other features include buttons in the Uber app that allow riders to call 911 in an emergency, as well as app refinements that make it easier for riders to share their whereabouts with friends or loved ones. Since it started in 2009, Uber has been dogged by reports of drivers accosting passengers, including lawsuits alleging sexual assaults. Last year the company was fined $8.9 million by Colorado for allowing people with serious criminal or motor vehicle offenses to work as drivers. The state found nearly 60 people were allowed to drive despite previous felony convictions or major traffic violations, including drunken driving. Khosrowshahi, formerly CEO of the Expedia travel booking site, replaced hard-charging co-founder Travis Kalanick in August and faced problems almost from the start. He has had to grapple with his company’s autonomous vehicle program after one of its SUVs struck and killed a pedestrian last month in Tempe, Az. Uber does 15 million trips per day worldwide, and its drivers “reflect the good and the bad and the random events of the world,” Khosrowshahi said.