FILE - In this Nov. 15, 2019, file photo an Uber office is seen in Secaucus, N.J. Uber is offering riders a four-digit pin code to help ensure they’re getting into the right car. The ride-hailing company is rolling out the new feature across the U.S. and Canada. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig, File)

Uber to let riders use pin codes to help identify right car

The change comes after a woman was killed after getting in the wrong car

Uber is offering riders a four-digit pin code to help ensure they’re getting into the right car.

The ride-hailing company rolled out the new feature across the U.S. and Canada Tuesday and said all riders in those two countries will be able to use pin codes by the end of the week.

The development follows the death of 21-year-old Samantha “Sami” Josephson, who was murdered in March after getting into the car of a man impersonating an Uber driver. Her body was later found in the woods 65 miles (105 kilometres) away.

Since then, states have been pushing for additional safety requirements for Uber drivers. In New Jersey, where Josephson grew up, the state passed a law requiring ride-hailing drivers to display identification signs on the car’s front windshield and rear window. North Carolina passed a law requiring Uber and Lyft drivers to display lighted signs.

With the new feature, Uber sends a four-digit pin code to the rider. Then, before getting into the car, the rider tells the driver the pin code. The driver enters the pin code into the app, and if everything matches up, the rider gets a notification that says “your ride is verified.”

“They can see the confirmation before getting into the vehicle and they don’t have to take the driver’s word for it,” said Rebecca Payne, senior product manager at Uber, who helped develop the feature.

Uber has long provided riders with license plate numbers and the make and model of cars, and the pin code offers an additional layer of security, Payne said. But the best way to ensure you’re getting into the right car is to check the license plate, she said. After Josephson’s death, Uber started reminding riders to check the license plate and other vehicle details.

“The license plate is not going to match another license plate that’s out on the road, and so that is really a great piece of information the rider can validate before getting in the car,” Payne said.

READ MORE: First ride-hailing licence approved in B.C.

Riders can choose whether or not to use Uber’s new pin code feature, or they can choose to use it only at night. Ride-hailing companies that cater to children have long used four-digit pin codes to help parents ensure their children are getting into the right car.

Uber and its main U.S. competitor, Lyft, have been experimenting with pin codes in some cities to facilitate airport pickups.

READ MORE: Fake Uber driver charged with kidnapping in U.S.

Both Uber and Lyft have struggled with safety issues. Uber released a report in December revealing that 464 people, mostly riders, reported that they were raped while using its services in 2017 and 2018, and there were more than 3,000 assaults reported in 2018. Lyft has said it would issue a similar report, but has not said when. Lyft has been sued by dozens of women who say they were assaulted by drivers and the company did not do enough to protect them.

Members of Congress introduced a bill in October that would require drivers to have quick response codes that a rider could scan with a smartphone. The bill also seeks to prevent anyone but the ride-hailing companies from selling Uber and Lyft signs for drivers to display in their car windows.

Cathy Bussewitz, The Associated Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Kimberley SAR warn of river dangers heading into last weeks of summer

Recent incidents prompt warnings for extra caution and preparedness

July Kootenay real estate sales at record high

Sales and prices of Kootenay real estate on the rise

Jaws for $5 on the big screen: a silver lining to pandemic-era cinema

During these (trying/unprecedented/difficult/spicy) times, many different industries have take colossal hits and… Continue reading

Be cautious with campfires, cigarettes

Small fire extinguished this week is a good reminder, Mayor McCormick says

Camp Stone volunteers remind public camp is closed after numerous issues

The volunteers who maintain Camp Stone hope to convey to the communtity… Continue reading

53 new COVID-19 cases, no new deaths cap off week of high infection rates in B.C.

Roughly 1,500 people are self-isolating because they either have COVID-19 or have been exposed to it

VIDEO: U.S. Air Force pilot does fly-by for B.C. son amid COVID border separation

Sky-high father-son visit plays out over White Rock Pier

3 Vancouver police officers test positive for COVID after responding to large party

Union president says other officers are self-isolating due to possible exposure

New mothers with COVID-19 should still breastfeed: Canada’s top doctor

Dr. Theresa Tam made the recommendation during World Breastfeeding Awareness Week

Collapse of Nunavut ice shelf ‘like losing a good friend:’ glaciologist

The ice shelf on the northwestern edge of Ellesmere Island has shrunk 43 per cent

B.C. wildfire crews have battled 111 blazes in the last seven days

Twenty-nine fires remain active, as of Friday (Aug 7)

‘We don’t make the rules’: Okanagan pub owner says staff harassed over pandemic precautions

‘If you have six people plus a baby, guess what? That’s seven’ - West Kelowna Kelly O’Bryan’s owner

T-Rex earns big bids at B.C. dino auction

Over 500 dino-themed lots sold to buyers from across North America

Remembering Brent Carver: A legend of Broadway who kept his B.C. roots strong

Over the years, the Cranbrook thespian earned his place as one of Canada’s greatest actors

Most Read