Uber has begun turning on a PIN system that's designed to improve the safety of riders by ensuring they're getting into the correct driver's car. The verification system is part of an effort to improve the ride-hailing service in light of safety and sexual assault concerns about Uber that emerged in 2019.
Uber tested the "verify your ride" PIN system in seven US cities starting in December, but it's now becoming available for all riders in the US and Canada, starting now and reaching everyone by the end of the week, Uber said Tuesday. Riders can enable it for all rides or for rides between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m.
If you're using the system, the Uber app will send you a four-digit PIN code just before your driver arrives. "When the driver arrives, the rider can verbally provide the PIN to the driver before getting into the vehicle. After the driver enters the correct PIN, the trip can begin," Uber said.
Riders have always been able to verify their drivers by referring to the app, which shows the driver's photo along with the car's make, model and license plate information. But the PIN system offers extra assurance. "When the feature is enabled, a trip cannot start until the correct PIN is entered into the driver's app," Uber said.
It's one of several features Uber is adding to address safety issues. In a December report, Uber disclosed 464 rapes in 2017 and 2018 combined, along with 5,500 other incidents of sexual assault, ranging from unwanted kissing to attempted rape. However, these "critical safety incidents" took place in only 0.0003% of rides.
"Confronting sexual violence requires honesty, and it's only by shining a light on these issues that we can begin to provide clarity on something that touches every corner of society," Chief Legal Officer Tony West said in a December blog post about the Uber safety report.
Originally published Jan. 7, 10:38 a.m. PT.
Update, 11:23 a.m.: Adds more detail about how the PIN system works.