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

Greater Victoria liquor stores see spike in sales amidst COVID-19

Customers are buying go-to products in larger quantities

Spring shift in service includes no weekend late night bus services in Greater Victoria

Annual shift into spring sees additional decrease in frequency on multiple routes

Sex workers face new risks during COVID-19 pandemic

‘Desperation has kicked in’ for vulnerable, undocumented workers unable to access help

UVic Vikes new basketball coach on the fast track

At 26, Shalie Dheensaw assumed head coaching role

Excess activity damaging Saanich golf course – despite being closed

Cedar Hill Golf Course manager reminds people of the 170 parks available in Saanich

VIDEO: ‘Used gloves and masks go in the garbage,’ says irked B.C. mayor

Health officials have said single-use gloves won’t do much to curb the spread of COVID-19

Unclear if Cowichan couple refusing to self-isolate will face penalty

No fines or charges have been laid to date, including Cowichan couple who won’t self isolate

POLL: Will you be able to make your rent or mortgage payment this month?

With the COVID-19 delivering a devastating blow to the global economy, and… Continue reading

COVID-19: Postponed surgeries will be done, B.C. health minister says

Contract with private surgical clinic to help clear backlog

Black Press Media ad sparks discussion about value of community newspapers

White Rock resident hopes front-page note shines light on revenue loss during COVID-19 crisis

Nanaimo man arrested after allegedly setting house fire

Firefighters arrived to find mobile home ablaze on Barnes Road in Cedar on Thursday

Businesses advised to prepare for federal, B.C. COVID-19 assistance

Canada Revenue Agency portal expected to open next week

Dogs are property, not kids, B.C. judge tells former couple

Court decision made on competing lawsuits over Zeus and Aurora — a pit bull and pit bull cross

B.C. senior gives blood for 200th time, has ‘saved’ 600 lives

There was no cutting of cake for Harvey Rempel but he’s challenging youth to start donating blood

Most Read