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Uber allows riders to call 911 in the app with new emergency button

The app will share your location, vehicle information and license plate number with dispatchers.
Credit: AP
FILE - This Tuesday, June 12, 2018, file photo shows the Uber app on a phone in New York.

Following recent concerns with safety, Uber is stepping up its rider safety practices and rolling out a 911 button in its app.

The new service roll-out comes about five months after investigators say a University of South Carolina student named Samantha Josephson, 21, got into a car that she thought was her Uber ride -- and was later found dead.

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The new feature offers emergency help if an Uber user needs it.

The app provides the user's live location, vehicle information, and license plate number of the vehicle which can be quickly shared by the rider to 911 dispatchers to provide help faster. 

In some U.S. cities, the information is automatically given to dispatchers.

According to Uber's website, the emergency button is in response to concerns of connecting first responders to 911 callers more quickly. Federal regulators say responders could save about 10,000 more lives every year if they got the call one minute sooner.

The feature was first introduced and tried in large cities such as Los Angeles, Seattle, San Diego, Phoenix, and Washington, D.C. Now, it's available in 60 more cities and has started testing in Mexico. 

How it works:

The feature is available to both riders and drivers on the safety toolkit, which can be accessed on the shield icon on the app's map screen. The GPS location, car make and model, along with license plate tag will be provided after tapping on the 911 Assistance feature.

Once the user taps the "Call 911" button, they can be connected to an emergency dispatcher. The trip details are then sent digitally to dispatchers.

Customer support with the Uber app then follows up with a check-in. 

Uber users can opt-out of providing trip information to dispatchers in their privacy settings in the app.