Uber has a secret hotline that riders can call in the event of an emergency, which isn't really a secret anymore at this point.

The number is 800-353-8237, with the last four digits spelling out "UBER." Both riders and drivers can take advantage of the service, and when they dial it, their call will be put through to a customer service representative (CSR) of Uber. Once it has been confirmed that it's a real emergency, they will then be transferred to 911.

Uber has been testing the hotline in 22 cities since October. While it's meant as the number to call when an emergency happens, it's originally planned for non-911 crises. In other words, the ride-hail company urges the passengers and drivers to not treat the hotline as a replacement for 911.

"In the United States, 911 is the panic button, and is the panic button we want people to use. It would be a stretch to say we could do better," Joe Sullivan, chief security officer at Uber, said in a press conference in light of the Kalamazoo incident.

The sort of emergencies that Uber has in mind is when a rider leaves behind medicine or an apparatus for their health such as an insulin pump.

This development is a response to the questions of a panic button in the wake of the shooting in Kalamazoo, Michigan, where 45-year-old suspect Jason Dalton allegedly shot eight people, leaving two in critical conditions and six dead.

"We are horrified and heartbroken at the senseless violence in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Our hearts and prayers are with the families of the victims of this devastating crime and those recovering from injuries. We have reached out to the police to help with their investigation in any way that we can," Sullivan says.

What this provides for everyone who uses Uber, whether for a source of income or a means to get around, is a way to take extra preventative measures when something seems amiss. That means that they don't have to stay completely dependent on the company's current system.

It's also worth mentioning that Kalamazoo is not included in the pilot program of the hotline, and the number to call Uber isn't even on the app itself. The only way for people to contact Uber outside of the selected 22 cities is through email, which is obviously is not an efficient method to report an emergency.

Unfortunate occurrences during an Uber ride are nothing new. Leaked data even revealed that thousands of rape and sexual assault complaints flood the company's CSR department, which was later confirmed to be five and 170 claims respectively.

The car service also implemented tighter driver screenings and more thorough background checks when an Uber passenger in India was raped.

Quartz first reported the secret safety hotline, and it tried to get in touch with Uber about whether the company's safety policies will be updated in the wake of the Kalamazoo shooting. However, it's still waiting for an official response.

One last thing: it seems a bit odd for Uber to keep the number a secret from the public, as the whole point of the hotline is for their safety. This led to speculations that Uber in fact doesn't want to be easily accessible.

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