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

West Kootenay snowpack nearing record levels

High snowpack can mean a greater risk of flooding in spring, say forecasters

RDKB urges caution when reading into early snowpack reports

Staff say it’s too early in the season to have a strong handle on water flow projections

Treading snowy trails across the Boundary

Before the rain came this week, trails in the Boundary were well-travelled

Province looking at steps to dissolve Jumbo resort municipality

Disincorporating municipality will likely require a legislative change, according to the province

VIDEO: Canada’s first presumptive case of coronavirus officially confirmed

Both patient and wife arrived on a China Southern Airlines flight after having been to Wuhan

BC Place lights up in purple and yellow to honour Kobe Bryant

Kobe Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter and seven others were killed in a helicopter crash

Whistleblower says Iranian-Americans questioned at Peace Arch crossing were targeted

Immigration lawyer says response from Customs Border Protection is a ‘total cover up’

‘Big money’ funding B.C. politics now mostly from taxpayers

Campaign targets $16 million and counting in ‘politician welfare’

Ski lift closed at B.C. mountain over alleged actions of former employee

‘We are actively investigating and dealing with the actions of a former employee,’ said the resort

VIDEO: Music stars pay tribute to Kobe Bryant at Grammys award show

Music artists including Billy Ray Cyrus, Rick Ross and Kirk Franklin paid tribute to Bryant

John Lennon’s psychedelic Rolls-Royce on display at Royal BC Museum

The classic car has been a favourite for Beatles fans from Victoria and internationally

Coastal GasLink stresses pipeline ‘on a schedule’ as B.C. appoints liaison for Wet’suwet’en

670-kilometre pipeline is schedule to be completed by end of 2023

Most Read