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Uber establishes ‘global response teams’ to protect riders and drivers

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Uber HQ has rolled out a series of measures designed to bolster the safety of passengers using its ride-hailing service. The move, which builds on earlier announcements, follows a number of incidents over the last year where Uber drivers have allegedly assaulted riders during a journey. The safety of the drivers themselves has also come under scrutiny recently following alleged attacks in Belgium and the Netherlands.

In a message posted on the company’s blog on Wednesday, Phil Cardenas, Uber’s head of global safety, said the San Francisco-based company was “committed to ensuring Uber is the safest way to get around a city.”

Besides introducing a new code of conduct detailing how passengers and drivers should use the service, the company said it’s also planning to set up a global safety advisory board to review Uber’s safety practices on an ongoing basis, and, when necessary, suggest ways to improve them.

In addition, off-duty law enforcement and security experts are being brought in to run checks on drivers to ensure they’re complying with Uber’s safety standards. Incident response teams have also been set up in cities around the world. These “specially trained groups,” which are on call around the clock, are supposed to deal with “serious safety concerns” in a timely fashion, Cardenas said.

Following an alleged rape of a passenger by an Uber driver in India last year, the company was accused of failing to run effective background checks on new drivers. Cardenas hopes the new measures will help to improve the situation and instill confidence in those using the service.

Driver safety has also become an issue in recent weeks following alleged attacks by taxi drivers in Brussels and Amsterdam. Traditional taxi firms in many of the cities where Uber operates claim the company has no right to be there as its drivers lack professional qualifications. Authorities in a number of countries have banned the service on this basis, though Uber is appealing such decisions. The reported violent attacks on Uber drivers is, however, a worrying development for the company, and one it’ll want to ensure doesn’t become a common occurrence in the locations where it continues to offer its service.

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