October 17, 2018 / 9:45 AM / in a month

Uber extends safety features to passengers, drivers in Europe, Middle East

FILE PHOTO: Uber's logo is displayed on a mobile phone in London, Britain, September 14, 2018. REUTERS/Hannah Mckay

DUBAI (Reuters) - Uber Technologies Inc [UBER.UL] is to connect passengers and drivers directly to emergency services in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa as part of a wider rollout of largely existing safety features over the next few weeks.

The ride-hailing company, which plans to go public next year and could be valued at $120 billion according to a Wall Street Journal report, said the safety features would be gradually introduced on its app in 23 European countries, including the United Kingdom, and in other markets such as Saudi Arabia.

Under the leadership of Dara Khosrowshahi, Uber has juggled investing in new markets, building up services such as food delivery and freight, as well as repairing its relationships with investors and revamping its image after a series of controversies, including clampdowns by regulators around the world.

The features, already used in the United States, include sharing trip details with up to five people, speed limit alerts for drivers and concealing passenger and driver phone numbers from each other.

In Britain, where concealing phone numbers is already available, a separate AXA insurance hub is being introduced for drivers and couriers.

Global Head of Safety Product Sachin Kansal, speaking at an event in Dubai, said the ride hailing company plans to roll out the Safety Toolkit globally by the end of the year.

Uber says it operates in more than 600 cities across 65 countries.

Uber has introduced a package of measures designed to improve its popular image following accusations of poor driver vetting that has led to a series of sexual harassment incidents, including rape.

Reporting by Alexander Cornwell, additional reporting by Costas Pitas; editing by Louise Heavens

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