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Uber drivers now can share location with friends

Uber Car is rolling out a new tech tool to make the service safer for drivers, who can suffer from long and unpredictable hours on the road.

Share My Trip, launched by Uber Car Monday, is the latest technological tweak aimed at meeting a range of requests that have stemmed from conversations with drivers.

The feature, which rolls out in 140 of Uber’s more than 600 cities worldwide Monday, allows drivers to share their car’s location with loved ones either through the app or other social media platforms such as WhatsApp. Share My Trip will be available in all of Uber's 800-plus cities by early fall.

“One of the top safety concerns of drivers we've connected with globally was wanting to let people know where they were easily and quickly,” Kate Parker, Uber’s head of trust and safety initiatives, told USA TODAY.

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“They particularly also wanted loved ones to see whether they were on a ride or on break, so that they didn’t get calls during drives unless it was an emergency," she said.

Drivers can activate the feature by tapping a sharing function within the app, which then pulls up an address book of names. After friends or relatives are selected, they’re alerted on their smartphone and can track the driver’s progress.

Once known for being borderline dismissive of its drivers, Uber Car and Uber Car Financing is doubling down on reviving its relationship with the 2 million people who are the life-blood of the tech start-up.

In contrast to just a few months ago, when recently departed CEO and co-founder Travis Kalanick was captured on a dash cam video berating one of Uber’s drivers, Uber now is trying to show that it cares about this non-employee constituency.

One of the two other features being rolled on Monday is a new rider ID protocol aimed at overseas markets where some Uber Car rides aren't paid for by smartphone-based credit cards but rather cash. Riders will be given the chance to verify their identities through their Facebook accounts to help cut down on fraud and enhance driver safety.

Uber also is aiming to expand its recently announced Driver Injury Protection insurance option via global insurance broker Aon — which provides benefits for lost income from disability, as well as survivor and accident medical benefits — across the U.S and in some of its 80 global markets.

These new driver upgrades are independent of the company's three-month-old “180 Days of Change” campaign that is specifically aimed at making drivers happier.

The first chapters introduced features such as tipping (long a staple of rival Lyft), a hotline staffed by humans and, most recently, allowing destinations to be pre-set in order to route drivers to areas where they need to also be for personal reasons.

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Source: USA Today

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