Lyft’s new safety features include an in-app 911 panic button

While the vast majority of ridesharing trips pass off without anything more than some idle chitchat — or possibly complete silence if you’re in an Uber Black — there’s always the small risk that something untoward can happen, whether it’s an issue with the driver, an accident, or some other unfortunate incident.

With this in mind, Lyft has announced it’s adding some important safety measures to its app that include a 911 “panic button” so you can call first responders in a couple of taps. Uber added a similar button in 2018.

Of course, calling 911 can be done from your phone app pretty quick, too, but if you do so from within the Lyft app, the screen will display your precise location and also your vehicle’s license plate, which you can pass on to the dispatcher.

In another new safety measure designed for use before the ride even begins, the app will soon increase the prominence of the license plate details of the arriving Lyft car to encourage riders to match the plate to confirm they’re getting into the correct vehicle.

This particular safety measure comes a couple of months after the murder of a University of South Carolina student after she apparently got into a car in the mistaken belief that it was her Uber ride. A man has since been charged in connection with the crime.

Data gathered by CNN in 2018 revealed that 18 Lyft drivers in the U.S. had faced accusations of sexual assault across the preceding four years, with four drivers having been convicted. The figure was more alarming for Uber, which saw 103 of its U.S.-based drivers accused of sexual assault in the same time frame. Thirty-one of them have since been convicted.

Last month Lyft announced continuous criminal monitoring and enhanced identity verification as part of efforts to further improve the safety and security of its service.

“Lyft is relentlessly focused on finding new ways to further strengthen safety measures on our platform,” Mary Winfield, Lyft’s head of trust and safety, said in a blog post. “Today, we’re glad to continue building on our commitment to safety by making it easier to identify your Lyft ride, get help in an unsafe situation, and ensure everyone in our community is held to the same standards.”

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