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Uber says it will verify drivers with PINS

Posted at 1:30 AM, Sep 27, 2019
and last updated 2019-09-27 01:30:20-04

Uber announced on Thursday it would be rolling out a feature that matches riders and drivers using four-digit PIN numbers, after a series of incidents led to public outcry over the perceived lack of safety measures offered by rideshare operators.

In one such case earlier this year, a 23-year-old woman was murdered after she got into a vehicle thinking it was the Uber she requested.

Uber announced the feature in a tweet and in a blog post, along with four other measures meant to boost safety. Uber did not immediately respond to ABC News' request for further comment Thursday.

"To make sure you get in the right car, you'll now be able to choose to receive a unique four-digit PIN to verbally provide to your driver. The driver will only be able to start your trip in the app once the correct PIN has been entered," Uber wrote on its website.

In addition to the PIN system, Uber also announced a text message-to-911 feature, a notification that tells riders whether drop-off points are near bike lanes, the ability to report a problem to Uber while en route, and real-time ID checks for drivers. The real-time ID checks expand on a previous initiative, and this time will prompt drivers to "perform a random series of basic movements -- blinking, smiling and/or a head turn -- to add another layer of security to the system," according to the blog post.

The move from Uber comes approximately six months after Samantha Josephson, a South Carolina college student, was killed after getting into her alleged murderer's car by mistake.

Josephson's death led to calls for additional safety protocols for rideshare operators, including Uber, and even pressure to change laws to make hailing rides safer.

In an appearance on "Good Morning America" in April, Josephson's parents called on Uber to do more to prevent what happened to their daughter from happening to anyone else.

"We've heard from strangers all over the country, and so many people have told us, 'It could have been our daughter, our son, ourselves,'" mom Marci Josephson said.

"I think it's just become such a natural or new phenomenon using Uber. We trust people, and you can't," she added. "You have to change the way that the laws are to make it safer because that's our nature. We automatically assume that we're safe."

Seymour Josephson, Samantha's father, added: "We grow up teaching our kids not to get into cars with strangers. And what do we do? We get into cars with strangers."