Didi Chuxing, China’s ridesharing giant, announced this week that early in the morning and late in the evening its carpooling service will only pair passengers with drivers of the same sex. This safety measure follows a number of other changes after a 21-year-old woman was allegedly murdered by a driver who was using his father’s account.
Carpooling drivers aren’t obligated to pick up passengers of the same sex during all operating hours — the policy applies from 5am to 6am and between 10pm and 12pm, according to Reuters. In May, following the murder of one of its passengers, Didi temporarily suspended its Hitch carpooling service between 10pm and 6am to evaluate new late-night safety measures. The new policy — that drivers have to pick up passengers of the same sex during certain windows of time — as well as the expanded hours, will go into effect on Friday.
Didi is also reportedly planning to roll out an “escort mode” on June 22 as part of a small-scale pilot program. The feature lets passengers share their journey and destination with emergency contacts.
Didi announced a number of changes last month as part of the first phase of its safety overhaul. The company eliminated its rating feature, which let drivers and passengers rate and tag each others’ appearances. Drivers reportedly labelled women with tags like “long legs” and “goddesses.”
The company has since made passengers’ personal information and profile pictures only visible to them, displaying a default image to drivers. It has also required all of its carpooling service drivers to pass a facial recognition test for every trip to verify that the person picking up passengers is the same person associated with the driver account. Additionally, the company announced last month that it would redesign its Emergency Help button.
While a lot of these new safety measures may be helpful for passengers, others are arguably extreme. For instance, last month Didi proposed recording the audio of every single trip, given the consent of the passengers, to help resolve potential disputes. It would be an invasive solution that also contributes to the notion that victims’ accounts are unlikely to be believed.
As for Wednesday’s announcement, only pairing passengers with drivers of the same sex makes the assumption that all ridesharing violence occurs between members of the opposite sex. It also implies that violence and sexual harassment can only occur within certain windows of time.