New Uber feature allows immediate 911 texting with route info

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — Uber is rolling out a new safety feature, and Indiana is one of only three spots to test it.

In the event of an emergency, users and drivers will be able to text 911 within the app. The button will generate a text that includes the make and model of the car you’re in, as well as the driver’s license plate. It will also show where the vehicle is currently, and the final destination.

“You have to understand when you have a rider behind you can’t see much,” Uber driver Hendry Tan said, “That’s the reason I also have the dashcam.”

“It can be done by the rider or the driver without the other part knowing,” Uber Safety Communications Manager Andrew Hasbun said.

Hasbun says only a third of the country has the ability to text 911 for help. Indiana has it statewide.

In 2018, Uber launched a feature allowing users to call 911 from the app, and it would display their route and vehicle information to repeat to dispatchers. The texting model skips several extra steps. Hasbun says the changes were generated from user feedback.

“One of the questions that came up was, “What could someone do if they are in a situation where they may not be able to make a phone call, and they want to contact 911 discreetly?” Hasbun said.

Uber expects to open the feature to the rest of the nation in the coming weeks. For now, it’s only available in Indiana, Minnesota, and Los Angeles County. Hasbun says all three of those locations have widespread text to 911 capabilities.

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