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Sharing Economy

Didi enhances panic button in response to passenger killings

China's top ride-hailing app also plans to record rides and toughen background checks

Didi Chuxing will add features to the app's panic button and begin recording shared rides after two of its passengers have been killed since May.    © Reuters

BEIJING -- Ride-hailing app Didi Chuxing has unveiled new safety measures that include an upgraded panic button, as the company faces pressure from customers and the Chinese government after the recent killings of two passengers in the country.

China's ride-hailing leader will suspend service on the mainland between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. for a week starting Saturday while enacting the changes, the company said Tuesday.

Passengers can call the police by clicking a button on the app, and this button will be updated to contact emergency numbers and share passenger information with the authorities.

Didi also will experiment with audio recordings of rides beginning Saturday. Drivers will receive more safety training and undergo stricter background checks regarding their identity and any criminal history.

The company will bolster customer service, increasing the number of in-house representatives to 8,000 from about 5,000 by the end of this year.

Calls for Didi to improve safety began after a female passenger was slain in May, apparently by a driver who used his father's account. Another driver is suspected in the killing of a second female passenger last month. Didi received a complaint about that driver just one day before the death, but did not respond.

Users accuse Didi of not doing enough to prevent such incidents. Chinese authorities are supervising the changes at Didi while ramping up oversight of the app's competitors.

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