(KSNW) – Rideshare app Uber announced Thursday a mask verification feature would roll out to the US and Canada, requiring riders to upload an image of themselves with a face covering before being allowed to use the service.
Since May, the company has had its “No mask, No ride” policy in place, which required both riders, drivers, and Uber Eats delivery to wear a face cover when using the service.
The technology that registered face coverings was available for drivers but it took some time and effort to make it available for riders.
“Since the beginning of May we were really trying to move as fast as possible,” said Akankshu Dhawan, Group Product Manager for Safety & Insurance at Uber. “On the driver’s side, we already had the technology to take a selfie and then process it. We were able to add an additional capability to check for a mask on top of it very quickly. Over the last two months or so we’ve been aggressively trying to bring that same capability over to the rider’s side.”
The tech company was able to verify that drivers were wearing masks before initiating rides, saying 3.5 million drivers completed more than 100 million mask verifications since May.
Uber data says that 99.5% of trips have no safety-related feedback and that generally riders and drivers are wearing masks. “For the really small percentage of the population that may not know how to wear a mask or Uber’s policy, we really wanted to focus this product for them,” said Dhawan.
Uber says they believe that accountability is a two-way street. If drivers report riders not wearing masks, they will be required to take a selfie showing their face covered being allowed to take another trip with Uber.
Riders who repeatedly violate the policy could risk being banned from the app. According to the ride-hailing provider, 1,250 riders in the US and Canada were removed from the app for not complying with the mask policy.