Grab launches safety initiatives to raise regional transport safety standards (updated)

Driver fatigue is a real concern and potential risk to others on the road.

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Grab launches safety initiatives to raise regional transport safety standards (updated)

Following its suspension of GrabHitch during late-night hours, Singapore-headquartered O2O giant Grab has launched a series of initiatives locally and regionally to “raise transport safety standards” at a press conference held in the city-state today.

The initiatives come in different ways across the region. In Singapore, these initiatives include a partnership with the country’s Health Promotion Board to offer free comprehensive health screenings and regular health coaching sessions; road safety courses conducted by the Traffic Police; and having drivers be equipped with first-aid skills. It is looking to provide health screenings to 1,000 drivers in the next 12 months – a cost that will be co-funded by Grab and the statutory board. Lim Kell Jay, head of Grab Singapore, said at the conference that the firm may look into providing more of such screenings if “there is overwhelming demand”.

The company is also in the midst of building a “smart driver fatigue model” that uses data like “the number of hours the driver has been on the road, … telematics data, driver’s profile, time of day, rest between shifts and a total number of bookings accepted” to determine when a particular driver may possibly be tired, and to remind them to take a break.

Lim said that the company, though will not take “punitive actions” against drivers who are driving long hours, takes complaints of unsafe driving seriously.

In other parts of Asia, like the Philippines, for example, Grab has joined hands with the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency, Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board, and the Philippine National Police – Highway Patrol Group to “strengthen safety processes and standards for drug prevention, accident and criminal response”, it said.

In Thailand, it is working with the United Nations to come up with initiatives that will support the safety of female commuters in the country.

The concept that safety is a responsibility that ride-hailing companies need to take upon themselves is one that was accentuated after two rape-and-murders were found to be carried out by drivers of China’s biggest ride-hailer Didi Chuxing, an investor of Grab. Chinese netizens, including actress Wang Xiaochen with nine million fans on social network Weibo, called out for more to be done and asked others to boycott Didi.

Some members of the public boycotted the company after learning about the killings. In a company-wide memo sent by Didi Chuxing CEO Cheng Wei, the 35-year-old founder said that there were “blind spots” within the firm’s safety indication system, and that company must place utmost importance on safety going forward.

Since then, Didi conducts “random in-service facial recognition checks”, aside from the regular background checks as well as daily facial recognition checks before drivers can start working each day. It has also rolled out its in-trip audio recording feature, which covers more than 90% of all trips, it said.

According to Didi, it too has a driver fatigue management policy that notifies drivers to go offline after “a certain length of continuous driving”. A spokesperson explained that there are two scenarios that will trigger such a feature; firstly, the app will automatically go offline 20 minutes after a driver drives for three hours continuously, and secondly, the app will automatically go offline six hours after a driver provides accumulatively ten hours of services to passengers. The firm is in the midst of reviewing suggestions from drivers regarding this feature. Existing features that target safety and health include: a risk alert system that reaches the emergency contact of the driver when the vehicle stays stationary for “an unusually long time”, and an emergency button that users can click on to reach the police.

(Update) 17/10 – This article was updated to reflect some of Didi’s existing and new safety-related policies. 

Editor: Ben Jiang