- Lyft expanded its rider safety program to include a new partnership with the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN), the nation's largest anti-sexual violence organization.
- Under that new partnership, all Lyft drivers will be required to complete additional mandatory community safety education designed to "protect against bad actors." Riders must agree to new Community Guidelines, and anyone reported for violating the guidelines will be either removed from the app or required to take additional education, the company said.
- Lyft also added a smart trip check-in feature to its app to ask riders or drivers if they need help for any trips that appear to experience unexpected delays. Riders and drivers will also get-in app access to 911 emergency assistance, which will include a prominent display of their location and vehicle information.
After struggling with high-profile safety incidents in recent years across the world, ride-hailing giants Uber and Lyft have doubled down on their commitment to safety in a bid to get the issues under control.
Earlier this year, both companies announced a raft of new app safety features, including push alerts to encourage riders to check license plates before getting in a car, and subjecting drivers to continuous background checks. Some of those new features followed the aftermath of the April murder of University of South Carolina student Samantha Josephson, who was killed by the driver of a vehicle she thought was her Uber.
When both companies filed paperwork with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for their initial public offerings (IPOs) this spring, they warned that more high-profile safety incidents could harm their efforts to expand their customer base. Uber's S-1 admitted there is still work to be done to "rehabilitate our brand and reputation," and said they cannot afford to make similar mistakes in the future.
In announcing the new safety features, Lyft said safety is an "ongoing focus" for the entire transportation sector, and that companies in the space must "continue raising the bar." Within that, technology is viewed as an increasingly important tool to help prevent sexual and domestic violence, although experts acknowledge that it is not perfect and needs constant refinement.
Ride-hailing is an important way for people to get around cities, especially late at night when transit service may be lacking. These new features should help riders and drivers be more confident in their safety.