Since 911 is for Emergencies Adding an App Means
Passengers are At-Risk

Why Uber’s Panic Button May Not Keep You Safe

Calling a customer service number 24/7 and speaking to a person is completely different than calling a 9-1-1 panic button. The 50th anniversary of the 9-1-1 emergency system was in early 2018.

“But the technology is still rolling out in phases and glitches happen. We understand that the most important call any of us make could be to 9-1-1. We teach our children about it and feature it in movies and shows,” said David S. Turetsky, visiting professor at the University at Albany’s College of Emergency Preparedness, Homeland Security and Cybersecurity.

ABC News’s T.J. Holmes reported,
“Can you imagine the fear and desperation of a woman jumping out of a moving vehicle was her only recourse. She mistakenly gotten into. And, if you use Uber it’s probably a mistake you also have made.” -- September, 12, 2018.

Issues Contacting 9-1-1 Operators Though an App

1. The app asks for verification before placing the call. It takes several attempts to connect.

If you’re distraught, having to push a button several times for help adds more stress.

2. Landlines are best for making 9-1-1 calls because they’re associated with an exact address. Cell phones can only give approximate locations through cell towers making it difficult for operators to determine where you are.

What if you’re in a new city and don’t know your exact location?

3. Every call has a different level of urgency, such as those involving guns, domestic violence or high-priority threats. You may be put on-hold.

What if you’re on a highway and can’t get off for several exits?

4. In New York City, some 84 million 9-1-1 calls are mistakes. With a clogged system people with serious issues cannot get through.

During disasters, like Hurricane Sandy, the lines were busy so people had to resort to social media sites, like Facebook and Twitter, people to communicate with family and friends.

5. Dispatchers can’t stay on the phone. After first-responders act they move on to the next call. This can lead to a great deal of stress and anxiety.

What if you can’t speak fast enough or want to speak softly so your driver doesn’t hear you?

6. Dispatchers dread calls involving children. They may have thick skin for the most horrible emergencies imaginable, but anything involving kids and babies in danger is the exception.

What if your child is in a car frightened?

7. It’s likely that a person answering your call is multitasking on slower days. Since the position can be the job can become tiresome, many dispatchers check their phones and Facebook while saving lives.

If you happen to get a person who’s distracted, will they address your safety issue fast?

Uber’s new technology enables both riders and drivers to share an Uber location with 911 responders in San Diego, Washington, D.C., Boston, and Phoenix. The pilot began in Denver and has since been implemented in several other cities and counties nationwide.

Who’s Driving You?

“As both a former Uber and Lyft driver myself, I can say first-hand, that the screening process for new drivers is less than par. Today, it seems that almost anyone can apply and after a few days, the individual is accepted. This presents serious safety concerned as the passenger doesn’t always know who they are placing their safety in the hands off.” Forbes, July 2018.

Glassdoor provides reviews from current and past employees at companies. For Uber, another driver said, “You run your car into the ground. You take all the risk and do all the work and get paid very little. All they do is run an app, and it's a horrible app. Doesn't work right most of the time. Passengers rarely tip. Only about 25%-33% of my riders do. We must rate riders the moment the ride ends while passengers have 30 days to rate us. It's a way of manipulating drivers into leaving a rating without knowing. Management knows about all these problems. They just don’t care.”

For Lyft drivers, 79 reviewers said, “Wear and tear on the car isn’t fun.” Seventy reviews said, “Poor rating system.” Fifty reviews said, “It can only work for full-time drivers.” Forty-two reviews said, “Taxing on your vehicle and at times there are too many drivers on the road.” Thirty-nine reviewers said, “For money, you’re better off working at a minimum wage job.”