China’s largest ride-hailing firm Didi Chuxing has released a safety overhaul after it suspended its Didi Hitch service last week, following the murder of a female passenger that shocked the country.
Last week, a 21-year-old female flight attendant was murdered during a ride in Zhengzhou city on May 6. Police said the suspect abandoned his car and jumped into a river. Police found the suspect’s body later, and confirmed his identity via a DNA test.
Didi is responding to the high-profile publicity crisis promptly. The company is facing new competition from a number of big technology companies that have recently launched their own ride-hailing services, including Chinese on-demand local services firm Meituan Dianping.
The firm is also rumored to be pursuing an initial public offering as early as this year, though such IPO speculation has accompanied Didi during the past couple of years. The company was last valued at nearly US$60 billion.
In a new set of safety overhaul measures announced today, Didi will take down all personalized tags and ratings from Didi Hitch, its car pool service. It will make personal information and profile pictures of passengers and car-owners only visible to the individual. Driver facial recognition will be made compulsory for every Hitch trip to minimize the risk of unapproved account use.
It will also suspend the hitch service between 10p.m. to 6a.m. every night. Passengers and car-owners who are on trips that begin earlier than 10 p.m. and are expected to end after 10 p.m. will receive special safety reminders.
It is reported that the murder suspect in the Zhengzhou case registered a Didi account using his father’s identity. Didi said that it will now "ask every driver for DiDi Express, DiDi Premier and DiDi Luxe to pass a facial recognition test every day when they start service."
Didi said it is working with law enforcement authorities to screen drivers through background checks and will exclude all individuals with violence history from its platform.
To improve emergency responses, Didi will redesign the emergency help function and make it more prominently displayed in the app’s interface so that any passenger in danger can secure help more promptly.