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Uber to start monitoring drivers through their phones to see whether they drive safely


Uber is to start tracking its drivers through the phones that they have in their car.

The company will start watching the drivers through the sensors embedded in their phones to ensure that they are driving safely, it has said.

The new system will use the gyrometers, GPS and accelerometers in drivers' phones to check in on what they are up to. It will then be able to know whether they are driving too fast or if they are given to braking too hard, for instance.

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All Uber drivers have phones in their cars, which are used for being notified of jobs as well as for navigating once a person is picked up.

The company has said that the plan is a “pilot scheme”. But it didn't say whether drivers are able to opt in or out of it, or even if they or their riders will be made aware that they are being tracked.

In its announcement, the company makes reference to the ratings that it asks drivers and their riders to give to each other at the end of journeys.

“If the rating is low, we ask why,” the company writes. “It might be that a driver is unhappy about an unruly rider. Or a rider is worried that her driver was going too fast. Either way, we need to check what actually happened.”

The data won't only be used to check in on problem drivers, according to the company. It might also be used to see that a driver seems to be moving their phone around a lot – and offer them an in-car mount to solve the problem.

But it might also be used to see that a driver tends to speed on a certain stretch of road, for instance. “For drivers who go much faster on that stretch, we can ask them to curb their enthusiasm,” the company writes.

The company said that it is trialling other ways of keeping riders safe and pacified.

“If you use the Uber app in Charlotte, North Carolina you might find a Bop It toy in the back of your driver's car,” the company writes. “Folks there have found it's a great way to keep drunk riders entertained so they don't distract their driver.”

Drivers in Seattle also use special colour-coded lights that allow their riders to be sure that they are getting in the right car.

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