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)

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

North Cowichan councillor Christopher Justice wants to see rare habitats protected in the municipality. (File photo)
North Cowichan wants rare ecosystems to be a priority in OCP

But some council members want public input into decision

The Chemainus Health Care Auxiliary is taking a pro-active approach and closing the thrift shop as a precautionary measure as of Saturday. (Photo by Don Bodger)
Chemainus Health Care Auxiliary Thrift Shop closing again as a precautionary measure

Second closure this year will last at least six weeks due to the COVID situation

The Santa’s Workshop fundraiser being put on by Camosun students on Dec. 5, 2020, will benefit Providence Farm. (Submitted)
Camosun students harness spirit holiday season with Providence Farm fundraiser

The next event, coming up on Dec. 5, is a virtual “Day in Santa’s Workshop”

Colwood resident, Geoffrey Irwin, has been missing since Sep. 27. His vehicle was found in Vancouver on Nov. 25. (Courtesy of West Shore RCMP)
Police search for former Caps player last seen in September

Geoff Irwin’s vehicle was found in Vancouver Nov. 25

Cowichan Tribes’ artist Darrell Thorne (left) and Phil Kent, chairman of the Island Corridor Foundation, hold Thorne’s first-place winning design in the ICF’s First Nations artist competition. (Robert Barron/Citizen)
Cowichan Tribes’ Darrell Thorne wins ICF art competition

Artists designed perspectives on passenger trains of the future

Motorists wait to enter a Fraser Health COVID-19 testing facility, in Surrey, B.C., on Monday, Nov. 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Another 694 diagnosed with COVID-19 in B.C. Thursday

Three more health care outbreaks, 12 deaths

A demonstrator wears representations of sea lice outside the Fisheries and Oceans Canada offices in downtown Vancouver Sept. 24, demanding more action on the Cohen Commission recommendations to protect wild Fraser River sockeye. (Quinn Bender photo)
First Nations renew call to revoke salmon farm licences

Leadership council implores use of precautionary principle in Discovery Islands

Ten-month-old Aidan Deschamps poses for a photo with his parents Amanda Sully and Adam Deschamps in this undated handout photo. Ten-month-old Aidan Deschamps was the first baby in Canada to be diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy through Ontario’s newborn screening program. The test was added to the program six days before he was born. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, Children’s Hospital Eastern Ontario *MANDATORY CREDIT*
First newborn tested for spinal muscular atrophy in Canada hits new milestones

‘If Aidan had been born any earlier or anywhere else our story would be quite different’

BC Ambulance Services reassures people that the service is well staffed and ready to respond. Photo by Don Bodger
BC Ambulance assures the Island community they’re ‘fully staffed’

‘Paramedics are not limited to a geographical area.’ — BCEHS

(Pixabay)
Canadians’ mental health has deteriorated with the second wave, study finds

Increased substance use one of the ways people are coping

A coal-fired power plant seen through dense smog from the window of an electric bullet train south of Beijing, December 2016. China has continued to increase thermal coal production and power generation, adding to greenhouse gas emissions that are already the world’s largest. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)
LNG featured at B.C. energy industry, climate change conference

Hydrogen, nuclear, carbon capture needed for Canada’s net-zero goal

An RCMP officer confers with military rescuers outside their Cormorant helicopter near Bridesville, B.C. Tuesday, Dec. 1. Photo courtesy of RCMP Cpl. Jesse O’Donaghey
Good Samaritan helped Kootenay police nab, rescue suspect which drew armed forces response

Midway RCMP said a Good Samaritan helped track the suspect, then brought the arresting officer dry socks

People line up at a COVID-19 assessment centre during the COVID-19 pandemic in Scarborough, Ont., on Wednesday, December 2, 2020. Toronto and Peel region continue to be in lockdown. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
COVID-19 vaccine approval could be days away as pressures mount on health-care system

Many health officials in regions across the country have reported increasing pressures on hospitals

Most Read