Uber will run criminal and driving history checks for every driver every year

Starting soon, Uber says it will run criminal background and driver history checks every year for all of its drivers.

Uber emailed riders about three new safety programs with the subject line, “Your safety is our priority.” The three new safety initiatives include the company’s commitment to ramped up driver screening, plus the Trusted Contacts ride-detail sharing, and 911 access from the Uber app.

Uber states that since 2009 millions of drivers have passed background and driving record screenings. According to Uber’s statement on stricter driver screening in the email sent to users, “Everyone driving with Uber in the U.S. must first pass a criminal and driving history check. Starting this year, we’ll proactively rerun those checks annually.”

In 2016, Uber agreed to pay $10 million to settle a lawsuit involving driver background checks in Los Angeles and San Francisco. In the 2014 lawsuit, San Francisco district attorney George Gascón and Los Angeles district attorney Jackie Lacey faulted Uber’s background checks.

The district attorneys claimed the procedure missed criminal records for 25 Uber applicants in the two cities in part because the background checks covered only the seven preceding years. The screening also ignored a database of about 30,000 registered sex offenders, the lawsuit claimed.

At the time, an Uber spokesperson said, “We’re glad to put this case behind us and excited to redouble our efforts serving riders and drivers across the state of California.”

The new annual driver screening program will apply to all Uber drivers nationwide.

Uber’s Trusted Contacts lets you set reminders to share trip details with up to five friends and family members. While you are on the ride, your designated contacts will be able to track your location in real time on a map. They will also know when you have arrived at your location. Assuming you have configured the Trusted Contacts feature ahead of time, you will be able to turn it on with a single tap on the Uber app screen.

Ubers’s new 911 feature makes the call with a single tap in Uber’s app. The feature displays your current location and trip details so you can tell the operator. Because not all 911 systems are alike, Uber is working with RapidSOS’ pilot programs in six U.S. cities where the app will automatically share the rider’s name and the car’s make, model, color, license plate number, and exact location.

The email Uber sent users includes multiple links to its Moving Forward website page, on which it states, “We’re listening to riders and drivers, changing our company from within, and working with cities to improve transportation.”

Gaming

Southwest Airlines gave every passenger on this flight a free Nintendo Switch

Southwest Airlines and Nintendo have partnered for a new sweepstakes, and they kicked off the promotion by giving every passenger on a lucky flight to San Diego a free Nintendo Switch.
Mobile

Here’s every Alexa Built-in phone that can access Amazon’s assistant on the move

If you've got your Amazon Echo, Echo Show, and Fire TV set up, you might want a phone that's just as tied into your Amazon-based A.I. network. Here's every Alexa Built-in smartphone you can buy from Amazon right now.
Mobile

Free yourself! How to unlock a phone from the icy hands of your wireless carrier

Do you want to know how to unlock a phone through your carrier or a third-party service like DoctorSIM? Regardless of which way you want to go, we've compiled a list of requirements and methods for doing so.
Movies & TV

From Hawkeye to Hit-Monkey, here’s every Marvel show and movie coming your way

The MCU's third phase might have ended, but Marvel's takeover of theaters and TV screens is just getting started. If you're hungry for more superhero action, here's every upcoming project to look forward to, from the MCU and otherwise.
Cars

There is no way to say pickup truck in emoji, and Ford wants to change that

Ford asked the Unicode Consortium to include a pickup truck in the database of emojis. The company is confident its request will be approved, and a blue pickup truck loosely shaped like an F-150 will be available in early 2020.
Cars

Carbuying can be tiring: Here are the best used car websites to make it easier

Shopping for a used car isn't easy, especially when the salesman is looking to make a quick sale. Thankfully, there are plenty of sites aimed at the prospective buyer, whether you're looking for a sedan or a newfangled hybrid.
Cars

Formula E races aren’t just exciting, they’re driving EV tech into the future

Formula E made its annual trip to the Big Apple, showing just how far the all-electric racing series has come. The cars are faster, and the racing is closer, but the tailpipe emissions are still at zero.
Mobile

Uber’s in-car shopping service now sells way more than just snacks

The Cargo Box launched in 2018 to offer Uber drivers an easy way to sell snacks and drinks to riders. The service is now expanding to include lots more items, including tech products and travel accessories.
Cars

The last two affordable station wagons in America are about to retire

Volkswagen confirmed it will stop making the Golf Sportwagen and the Golf Alltrack by the end of 2019. Both station wagons are at the end of their life cycle, but they won't be replaced because they compete in a shrinking segment of the…
Cars

How Lexus, one of the industry’s hybrid champions, is preparing for the 2020s

Lexus predicts significant shifts will reshape the automotive industry during the 2020s. The hybrid champion is preparing to branch out into electric cars, it's investing in autonomous technology, and it wants to keep focusing on SUVs.
Cars

Cadillac’s new 2020 CT5 sedan lets you Super Cruise across America

The 2020 Cadillac CT5 proves the General Motors-owned luxury brand still cares about sedans. Introduced at the 2019 New York Auto Show, it's optionally available with Cadillac's Super Cruise technology and a lineup of turbocharged engines.
Cars

Toyota’s futuristic golf cart will transport people around at the 2020 Olympics

Toyota is reinventing the golf cart for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games. The company designed a vehicle named the Accessible People Mover that will transport visitors, athletes, and staff members from venue to venue.
Cars

Younger motorists may be banned from night driving in U.K. safety push

The U.K. is considering banning newly qualified motorists from driving at night in a bid to boost safety on its roads. Other measures could include banning passengers under a certain age from traveling with young drivers.
Cars

The 2020 Chevrolet Corvette arrives with supercar specs and a bargain price tag

Chevrolet completely reinvented the Corvette Stingray for the 2020 model year. While the first seven generations of the car came with a front-mounted engine, the eighth-generation model switches to a mid-engined layout.