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Safety Features in Ride Hailing Apps for Women

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The use of ride hailing apps provides great convenience for transportation in various situations. However, it also demands increased attention to safety, particularly for women. What is the safety feature that leading platforms in the industry offer to female passengers if they find themselves in a potentially dangerous situation? Are there other alternatives to enhance user safety? The Tech Basic Team has investigated and contacted ride hailing apps Uber, 99 & BlaBlaCar regarding safety features for women, Article provides complete detail.

Rising Incidents and Statistics

Statistics indicate that women have been experiencing increasing levels of harassment in private transportation, including ride hailing vehicles. The “Living in São Paulo: Women” survey, conducted by the Nossa São Paulo network and Ipec, revealed that in 2022, 19% of respondents experienced such situations within ride hailing or taxi vehicles.

These numbers represent an increase compared to previous years. In 2021, the percentage was 12%, higher than the 10% in 2020 and 4% in 2018. While incidents on public transportation are more prevalent, they showed a decline from 2021 to 2022, in contrast to the upward trend seen in private transportation.

Safety Measures in Ride hailing Apps

The risks associated with transportation apps are not isolated from the broader societal context. The Brazilian Public Security Yearbook for 2022 recorded 1,341 cases of femicide and 66,020 cases of rape in 2021, marking a 4.2% increase from 2020. What steps have these platforms taken to protect women using their services?

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To find the answer to the above question, The Tech Basic reached out to three of the leading private transportation services operating in the country: Uber, 99, and BlaBlaCar.

They provided insights into the safety features they offer for female passengers, empowering them with the knowledge of how to respond in potentially dangerous situations.

Uber – Ride Hailing Apps

When contacting Uber, the company provided information about its safety tools without differentiation based on gender. Among the features shared by the company, the primary one applicable in this case is the Safety Features button. Through it, the user can share their real-time location and estimated arrival time with anyone they choose, in addition to the option to directly call the police in risky situations through the app.

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Ride Hailing Apps Uber

In the case of the states of Rio de Janeiro and Maranhão, this feature has been integrated with the emergency service number 190, enabling operators to automatically receive real-time location and ongoing trip data.

“During the trip, the app features the Safety Features button, which consolidates all of the platform’s safety functions. This feature allows users and partner drivers to share their real-time location and estimated arrival time with anyone they choose, as well as providing the option to call the police in risky or emergency situations directly through the app. Upon pressing this button, in addition to making the call, the user will be informed of their current location and information about the traveling vehicle.”

“In Rio de Janeiro and Maranhão, this feature has already been integrated with the emergency service number 190, so that operators of the emergency service automatically receive the real-time location and trip data from the call’s origin. This project replicates an integration that Uber already has with emergency response services in over 1,200 cities in the United States, as well as various states in Mexico, South Africa, and Canada.” Uber (Ride Hailing Apps)

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99

The 99 (Ride Hailing Apps), on the other hand, addressed the tools in a more targeted manner towards female passengers. According to the company, all rides are monitored in real-time from start to finish. If any abnormality is detected, safety protocols are activated.

The platform offers audio recording, route sharing with trusted contacts, and a button to directly call the police. It also provides discount vouchers for rides to Women’s Police Stations (Delegacias da Mulher or DDM) and maintains the Justiceiras project, which provides immediate assistance to victims of domestic violence through a support network.

“The 99 also has a partnership with Women’s Police Stations (Delegacias da Mulher or DDM), offering women in risky situations discount vouchers for rides to state police stations. They also maintain the Justiceiras project, providing immediate assistance to victims of domestic violence through a support network in cases of physical or emotional violence. The company also has a 24-hour Security Center with a special protocol for incident response and support.” 99

Ride Hailing Apps 99

In the list of safety tools provided by 99, there are three Artificial Intelligence. Pítia and Atena work to identify female passengers in situations of higher risk and direct the ride to partner drivers with better ratings or to female partner drivers. The app also offers educational and awareness communications to drivers about the importance of maintaining professionalism and respect.

On the other hand, Ártemis is used to track and identify words and contexts in the comments at the end of rides that may be linked to some form of harassment. In this way, the service promises to identify the aggressors and ban their profiles from the platform, while the victims are directed to personalized assistance.

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BlaBlaCar

Another app we talked to was BlaBlaCar. The company stated that, in the case of carpooling, both drivers and passengers – including female passengers – can choose who they travel with using tools such as photo verification, email, phone number, checking ratings of each member, and the “verified profile” feature.

Specifically for women, the company claims to offer the “Women Only” feature. It provides the option for female users who prefer and feel more comfortable and secure traveling only with other women. The activation process works as follows: Your ride > Places and options > “Women Only” filter.

Ride Hailing Apps BlaBlaCar

“The tool aims to provide female users with the option to choose how they prefer to travel through carpooling. To activate this feature, when searching for the desired route, the female passenger should click on ‘Your ride,’ then ‘Places and options,’ select the ‘Women Only’ filter, and then confirm.” BlaBlaCar

To complete this, BlaBlaCar (Ride Hailing Apps)stated that they provide the option to “Report a member,” allowing people to file a complaint about the inappropriate use of the service.

Additional Safety Alternatives – Ride Hailing Apps

What other alternatives exist to ensure the safety of female passengers in private transportation? The column identified the existence of some ride hailing apps exclusively for female users, with only female drivers. This is the case with Lady Driver and Drivers Mulheres.

Although they offer a higher level of security for female users, when checking the reviews on the respective app download pages, it’s possible to observe that there is still room for improvement in the service. The lack of features like multiple stops, fare variations, and limited-service areas are some of the most mentioned points that would benefit from future enhancements.

Furthermore, there’s nothing stopping the possibility of having exclusively female drivers from being implemented in all ride hailing apps that do not yet offer this option. This would provide greater safety for female passengers without the limitations in functionality present in dedicated platforms.

Have you ever been in a dangerous situation during a ride on a ride hailing app? What action did you take? Share with us on X (Twitter).

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