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2020-07-14 11:39:57

A carpooling service operated by Didi Chuxing, China’s dominant ride-hailing platform, released its first-ever safety report Monday, shedding light on passenger safety features that were added after two women were killed — one allegedly, one definitively — by their drivers in 2018.

According to the report, 317,792 prospective drivers failed to pass the Didi Hitch service’s upgraded vetting procedure. This included running checks on applicants’ government-issued IDs to determine whether they had criminal histories, as well as checking their names against a list of “dishonest” individuals on the website of the Supreme People’s Court, a Didi representative told Sixth Tone.

Over 820 passengers and would-be drivers were barred from the platform after being caught using fraudulent photos to bypass the facial-recognition safety feature — a mandatory step to deter “unapproved account use” by either party, according to the report.

However, Didi also warned that the success of the added safety features may be limited due to low opt-in rates among passengers. Only 7% of customers chose to share their real-time location with a friend through the Didi app as an added precaution. And the report found that 643 passengers who noticed that their vehicles’ license plate numbers were not the same as reported on the app ignored the discrepancy.

After the high-profile death of a flight attendant — allegedly at the hands of her Didi Hitch driver, who was later found drowned — the company introduced a number of new policies in May 2018, doing away with a passenger review feature that had evolved into a “hot or not” rating system, requiring driver facial recognition for every trip, implementing a reward system for customers who reported discrepancies such as mismatched license plates, and revamping emergency assistance functions.

Just a few months later, however, another female Hitch passenger was killed under similar circumstances. Didi responded by suspending its Hitch service entirely, and in December 2018 announced that the suspension would continue until all safety issues were resolved.

In November 2019 — over a year after the initial suspension — Didi drew backlash by announcing that its Hitch carpooling service would resume, but with reduced operating hours for female customers. It reversed the move two days later.

In a post on microblogging platform Weibo related to Monday’s safety report, the head of Didi Hitch, Zhang Rui, invited users of the service to provide feedback on the new safety regulations.

Editor: David Paulk.

(Header image: People Visual)