Uber has announced that it will pilot a new safety feature in Gauteng — the ability for drivers and riders to record audio through the app if they feel their safety is compromised.

The ride-hailing company said it was a highly-requested feature from drivers, and Uber is set to start testing it in Pretoria and Johannesburg.

“Uber will now allow riders and drivers to use the app to record and share audio of their trip as evidence in the case of a safety incident — something that drivers have been asking for based on their feedback from roundtable sessions,” it said in a statement.

The feature — which has been successful in the US and Latin America — will go live in South Africa on Thursday, 8 September 2022.

Audio recordings will be encrypted, and Uber’s safety team will only decrypt them once a driver or rider logs a support ticket on the app.

Neither the rider nor the driver can play back the recording, and while both parties are aware of the feature, they won’t know when it is being used.

The recording feature aims to improve Uber’s handling of safety cases reported by riders and drivers by collecting better evidence.

“Safety is at the core of how we do business and we are proud to announce three new safety features to help improve the experience of users,” said Uber sub-Saharan Africa general manager Kagiso Khaole.

“Our commitment to raising the bar on safety remains relentless and we continue to work hard to grow the over 3 million earnings opportunities we have created thus far.”

The ride-hailing company also announced a new Safety Check Up feature to be implemented across sub-Saharan Africa.

“This feature encourages riders to complete their safety profile by turning on and utilising the available features such as Trusted Contacts, PIN verification and RideCheck,” Uber said.

It also revealed that South African riders can now reserve group travel through UberXL Reserve and Uber Van Reserve 30 days in advance.