Uber’s new Panic Button helps riders summon 911

Uber is trying to make amends one step at a time. As a follow-up to the ride-sharing company’s new seat belt warning, its cellphone app now includes a direct method to allow riders to contact 911 at the press of a virtual button.

The Panic Button, as Uber calls it, is located in a “safety center” accessible via the home screen. The new menu also lists information about the screening process for drivers, insurance and community guidelines. The panic button is now live throughout the U.S. for riders and Uber says that drivers will get one on their screens soon, too.

To call 911, customers simply need to need to swipe up from the new safety center icon, tap “911 assistance” and confirm the call is intentional to avoid accidental dials.

Uber also announced a pilot program in select cities that will send location and trip details directly to 911 dispatchers to help them receive more accurate readings from distress calls. The trial is set to run in Denver, Nashville, Charleston, South Carolina, Chattanooga, Tennessee, and Naples, Florida

Additions to the app are part of Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi’s initiative to improve the company’s safety record after a period of controversy and a corporate shakeup last year. One of the company’s self-driving Volvo XC90 vehicles fatally struck a pedestrian in Tempe, Arizona, in March and a federal investigation remains ongoing.

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