Who knew left-hand turns were so dangerous? Well, anyone who drives in a city, like an Uber driver, for example, has probably encountered their fair share of dangerous left turns. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 22 percent of crashes involve a vehicle making a left turn at an intersection. Uber has a novel solution to this problem: fewer left turns.
Uber announced today that its in-app navigation system will now recommend fewer left turns in an effort to reduce crashes and make trips safer overall. The adjustments are expected to be “minor” with little impact on trip time, but the effect will hopefully make for a less stressful experience for drivers.
Uber is also doubling down on in-car surveillance as a way to get drivers and riders to behave properly. The company is expanding its audio recording pilot to more cities and is also introducing video recording as well. The theory is that most Uber drivers already use dashcams to record their trips as a way to capture any unsafe behavior. Now, Uber is offering them a cheaper and easier way by updating its driver app to include a video recording feature.
Just like audio recording, video files will be encrypted and stored only on the user’s phone. Drivers can attach video files to safety reports they send to Uber, which are then viewed by trained safety agents.
These features are not available nationwide. Uber says starting next month, audio recording will be available to drivers in Cincinnati, Nashville, Phoenix, Salt Lake City, San Antonio, and Tucson next month. (The feature is already live in Raleigh-Durham, Kansas City, and Louisville.) Video recording is being trialed in Cincinnati, Louisville, and New York City, as well as Santos and João Pessoa, Brazil.
Intersections also are proving troublesome for Uber drivers, so the company is adding a visual alert in the in-app navigation when drivers approach an intersection without a four-way stop. The alert will warn them to “watch for cross traffic,” for example.
Lastly, the company is conducting an audit to weed out fake user names, especially those using offensive language. Accounts using fake names will remain blocked until users validate their account names. Drivers can also snitch to the company when they spot fake user names in the wild. (Drivers have posted about their experience with fake user names on online forums.)