Uber's new in-app feature to text 911 debuts in LA County

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Ride-hailing service Uber debuted a text-to-911 feature on its phone app Thursday in Los Angeles County, allowing riders and drivers to quickly and discreetly contact law enforcement in the event of an emergency.

Uber added an emergency 911 call button in the app last year. The update will expand the feature to include texting for help, with the button located in Uber's "Safety Toolkit."

"In an emergency, every second counts,'' Sachin Kansal, Uber's head of safety products, said in a statement. "This new addition to the app will allow Uber users to reach out to 911 in situations where they may not be able to make a phone call.''

According to Uber, when a user pushes the text-to-911 button, the app will automatically formulate the start of the text message, stating that the user is in an Uber vehicle and providing a current location, destination and description of the vehicle. The user can then add a description of the emergency.

The service is being implemented on a pilot basis in L.A. County, Minnesota and Indiana, but Uber officials said they plan to expand it other jurisdictions that support text-to-911 technology. According to Uber, text-to-911 is supported in jurisdictions across L.A. County, with the exception of Bell and Bell Gardens.

City News Service contributed to this story.
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