February 11, 2015 / 9:39 AM / 3 years ago

Uber introduces India-specific safety features in taxi app

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - Uber Technologies Inc. added on Wednesday a panic button and tracking features to its taxi hailing app in India after the U.S.-based company was banned in New Delhi last year over rape allegations against one of its drivers.

The logo of car-sharing service app Uber on a smartphone over a reserved lane for taxis in a street is seen in this photo illustration taken in Madrid on December 10, 2014. REUTERS/Sergio Perez/Files

Uber’s India app now has a “send status” feature to enable passengers to share ride details with their contacts in real time. The app also has an “SOS” button to call the local police directly.

A spokesman said the functions were the first market-specific safety features launched by Uber. The company also said it plans to launch safety features in other countries soon.

“Safety concerns tend to be unique for each local market. We recognized the demand for these features in India,” the spokesman added.

Authorities in New Delhi banned Uber in December following the rape allegations and issued rules that require all taxis to be equipped with a physical panic button.

While the service remains officially banned in Delhi, Uber resumed operations there in January and has since said it has stepped up background checks on all its India drivers. The app is available in several cities.

Uber is also fighting bans in France, Spain and South Korea for alleged violations including using unlicensed drivers. It has also had to contend with rape allegations against drivers in Chicago and Boston.

Reporting by Aditya Kalra; Editing by Miral Fahmy

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