By Prince Osuagwu
Ride hailing software company, Uber, has taken a step towards using technology to help its driver partners prevent the drowsy driving syndrome which is mainly responsible for most road accidents.
Uber said it has introduced a new policy for driver-partners across Sub-Sahara Africa, including Nigeria to enhance their safety and that of their passengers.
Uber said it has just developed a new feature in its app, that prompts drivers to go offline for six straight hours after a total of 12 hours of driving time. Drivers who do not take a long enough break will not be able to log into the app and take trips before that period expires.
Uber already has in-app notification feature that reminds drivers to take a break when feeling tired on the road. The new driving hours policy is an additional feature that will help improve safety on the roads for all.
Explaining the rationale behind the latest innovation, General Manager Uber West Africa, Lola Kassim, said: “We want to promote safe and responsible use of the Uber app and this feature has tremendous potential to protect, not only Uber driver-partners, but also their passengers and ultimately, all other road users.
“Driver-partners in Nigeria are already driving responsibly but safety is one of our key pillars and we believe this new feature will be adding one more safety layer.”
Uber driver-partners will be able to track the time they spend on Uber trips and will be reminded when they’ve reached their maximum time on the Uber app. It provides periodic notifications when drivers are approaching the 12-hour driving time limit and then will automatically go offline for six straight hours when their max has been reached. However, Uber said it will allow drivers to finish any trip they’re currently on before automatically switching the said partner offline.
Kassim said that after the six hours, driving time resets and drivers can go online again to receive trip requests. She added that the technology will come on a phased roll out basis and not all driver-partners will see this right away.
According to her, “last month we rolled out this feature across South Africa. Based on drivers feedback, the new feature is working well and has helped enhance driver and passenger safety. We are excited to roll this out across the rest of the region as this move will strengthen Uber’s approach to help keep riders and drivers safe on the road while preserving the flexibility drivers tell us they love, “ adds Kassim.
To ensure drivers understand the rationale and the functionality of the feature, Uber said it has held various focus groups across their Greenlight Hubs (support centres) and has announced the feature through podcasts which can be accessed through the app.