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Uber's New Safety Updates Include Video Recording During Rides

The feature is being tested in three US cities.

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Angela Lang/CNET

Uber is trialing video recording during rides in an effort to improve safety features. Drivers will be able to use the front-facing camera on their phones to record video through Uber's Driver app, it was announced Thursday.

The capability was built on top of Uber's audio recording feature, which allows riders and drivers to document their trip, with drivers being unable to access recordings unless they share it with Uber in a safety report.

The ride-sharing platform will test the feature with "select drivers" in New York City, Cincinnati and Louisville, as well as in Santos and João Pessoa, Brazil.

Uber is also expanding its audio recording capability to Cincinnati, Nashville, Phoenix, Salt Lake City, San Antonio and Tucson next month, saying it has already "seen many instances where this technology has helped us determine the best course of action after a safety incident."

Uber announced its audio recording feature at the end of December 2021, bringing it to Louisville, Kansas City and Raleigh-Durham at the time. Audio recordings can be submitted by either drivers or riders -- whoever begins recording the ride through the app -- to Uber alongside safety reports. Files are encrypted and stored directly on the driver or rider's device.

Other driver safety features announced Thursday by Uber include providing navigation routes with fewer left turns -- citing National Highway Traffic Safety Administration research from 2010 that found 22% of crashes were caused by making a left turn at an intersection -- and map messages reminding drivers to "watch for cross traffic" at intersections.

Other updates include tips on what to do if a rider falls asleep or if someone doesn't have a car seat for their toddler, and how to report suspected cases of human trafficking. Uber is also conducting an audit of rider accounts and freezing any with fake names.