On August 24th, 2018, a woman got into a taxi, hired via a car-service app. The woman’s friend received a message seeking for help one hour later; the women lost contact with everyone afterward. She was on her way visiting her parents, and now she will never come back to her home anymore… Experts rate Singapore as “the second safest country” in the world, according to The Economists; however, a similar incident happened in Singapore a few months ago. A Grab (a well-known ridesharing company in South East Asia) driver sexually harassed a drunk university student. Ride-hailing was created to bring convenience transportation to the residential area; however, incidents happened along with car-hailing app are flooding, affecting citizen’s lives. What is lacking there? It is Awareness of self-protecting.
Grab, one of the main ride-hailing companies in Singapore started their service in 2012. It has become one of the most frequently used apps for Singapore residents. At Singapore American School (SAS) high school, 98% of students have “Grab” downloaded on their phone. And about 68% of students claim “Grab” to be one of the most necessary apps to have, living in Singapore, as shown by Survey done at SAS.
According to the survey sent out among SAS, 58% of students use Grab once a week; however, only 5% claimed that they know the emergency call function on Grab.
Using apps like Grab have always been a popular option for students at SAS, as it is not easy to get a cab in front of the school. Some of the most common responses, such as “call my mom or dad” or even “incidents barely occur in Singapore”, popped up when SAS students are being asked, “what would you do if you meet an emergency?” From this, it is quite obvious that students in Singapore American School have barely any knowledge of emergency functions that might save their lives in emergency situations.
As it clearly stated on Grab’s website that drivers “go through First Aid training as well as Defensive driving or Riding Training”, drivers are fully capable of providing safe rides. However, emergencies happen without giving any foreshadowing. While the regulation of Grab is complicated, there are other ways in which passengers could save themselves from danger, such as app and phone functions and their behavior in the car. Do passengers actually knows functions on the app or phone could probably save their life in certain cases? Does that mean passengers could fully relax their vigilance while they are taking the ride?
“I basically text with my friends and listen to music while taking a cab. Sometimes I would look up and check if the driver is going in the right direction.” Said by a junior, Subin Jung. “For emergency cases, I don’t know because it never happened to me.”
Safety, as the most important factor, should always be at the top of passengers head. There are functions on Grab that could save you from danger. As mentioned earlier, there’s an emergency button which passengers can use to request help at any time. Before taking the ride, users can set three emergency contacts in the settings bar on the Grab app. In the case of an emergency, passengers can choose to “notify emergency contact” and, calls will go straight out to pre-set contacts. In the case of “immediate danger”, users are urged to press “notify security” at the bottom to report your case. The security company will call back the phone number. If the situation allows, passengers can pick up the call for assistance; however, the call will go straight to the police officer as if the call is not answered by the user. This function could be life-saving to passengers in danger.
Nowadays, mobile phones provide the same kind of functions, usually called as “SOS” button. Take the iPhone for example, an emergency call slider will appear on the
screen if the user holds on side bottom for few seconds. When the slider appears, sliding the “Emergency SOS” bottom to the right will activate the emergency function. Another useful function on the iPhone will be the Medical ID. Medical ID provides your general information to first-aid personnel and also to the police if an emergency occurs. This information could really help to save time and also to have a bigger chance of surviving some from danger.
Passengers’ behavior during the car ride could also save passengers from evil. Passengers should not be staring at their phone all the time, but they should be frequently checking whether the driver is going in the right direction. About 79% of students at SAS express that “they usually look at phones while taking taxis” and 49% of students at SAS said, “they intentionally avoid conversation with the driver”. Checking the map and direction will always be helpful so passengers can notice if the driver is taking any abnormal routes as soon as possible.
While ride-hailing companies always put “safety” first on their service purpose, it is still necessary for passengers to have some knowledge of self-protection. It might not be interesting, until the moment you realize how important it is to protect your own life.