Here’s how Uber’s new long-distance parking safety check works

A year ago, Uber announced that they would be releasing a new set of safety and security features designed to protect riders and drivers. One of the most promising features announced is RideCheck, which is finally available for app users in the United States (it's expected to roll out to users in other countries in the near future). So, how does Uber’s RideCheck actually work?

Essentially, the feature works by tracking your ride to ensure your safety, especially during long stops. It uses GPS and sensors in your phone, such as accelerometers and gyroscopes, to track your rides so you always know where you are and what's going on. RideCheck will notice if you stay in the same location for an especially long time and can even detect potential car accidents.

The Uber app will actually check on you when the feature detects a possible problem. Users will receive a notification asking them if everything is OK, and the passenger or driver can check the information. After users check the notification, they'll open a panel with several options: They can press the panic button to call 911, quickly dial the Uber safety hotline, report an incident, add or change a destination, or chat with a friend. In some cases, a security team member may even call to check on you if you indicate you need help. But if you say everything is fine, the trip will go on as normal. Here’s a closer look at how it works:

Although the feature was announced a year ago, it took a while to go live. Uber said it has been testing and working on RideCheck for the last year. According to Mashable, it will eventually roll out to other countries and will "evolve" to cover many other situations in which you might need help or help.

If you don't like RideCheck, you can turn off the feature and opt out of notifications. Don't worry: even if your driver turns it off and you turn it on, it will still work for you because it runs independently on each phone.

Of course, the feature isn't perfect. Sachin Kansal, Uber's head of safety products, told Mashable that RideCheck is sometimes triggered in completely normal and safe situations, like stopping at a drive-thru or even just sitting in traffic. However, during testing in Los Angeles, the company was able to address some of these issues by using real-time data to see if your site is in a very crowded area. It's likely that the feature will continue to be improved and refined as it is rolled out to other states.

If you prefer Lyft, you can rest assured that the app has its own version of this feature called Smart Ride Check-in, which works essentially the same way. This was announced last week.

In theory, RideCheck sounds like a great feature: Users might feel safer knowing the app is watching their every move, and knowing they have a way to get help if necessary. This is undoubtedly a good move to protect passengers and drivers.