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Uber Experiments With Using Bop It! Toys To Improve Driver Safety

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On: Thu, Feb 4, 2016 at 7:16PM | By: Carl Malek

Uber Experiments With Using Bop It! Toys To Improve Driver Safety

If you're an Uber driver, chances are that picking up intoxicated passengers from bars and other establishments is not exactly your favorite assignment due to the dangers of being assaulted, as well as less than desirable behavior. However, Uber is aiming to make this particular task safer and easier with a new initiative that could improve driver safety.

The key part of this initiative is the Bop It! toy. First introduced in the mid 1990s, the Bop It! is pretty much the electronic equivalent of Simon Says, challenging players to memorize a series of actions that get progressively harder as time passes. The report, which was published by the folks at the British newspaper, The Guardian, states that Uber is leaving the devices in the back seats of selected Uber vehicles in Charlotte, North Carolina, and possibly expanding the program further if the results there prove to reduce drunken assaults and lewd behavior.

In a separate statement to Autoblog, an Uber spokesman said that the company has been running the experiment since November, and early feedback has, so far, been positive from drivers as well as select members of the public. Uber Chief of Security Joe Sullivan told The Guardian that the idea is actually pretty simple, "An intoxicated rider who is engaged in something interesting is less likely to be irritable and aiming aggression at the driver."

This strategy could help prevent vicious assaults like the video that featured a former Taco Bell executive assaulting an Uber driver several months ago. However, a danger could also emerge if the assailant decides to use the game as a weapon, which could endanger drivers even more. A simple solution to this threat would be to keep the Bop It! on a small tether attached to the lower seat belt assembly, which would prevent the device from leaving the passenger compartment. This would allow the rider to have fun with the game while helping to keep the driver safe.

In addition to the Bop It! program, Uber rolled out a separate program in Seattle, Washington, that uses strategically placed mirrors to allow passengers to see themselves. Like the Bop It! toy, Uber claims that psychological research shows that passengers are more likely to stay calm if they can see their own reflection while riding in a vehicle. While the science behind this particular plan is even more unconventional than those behind the toy program, I applaud any attempts that attempt to improve not only the riding experience, but the safety of Uber drivers as well.


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