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Bolt SA debuts audio trip recording safety feature

Sibahle Malinga
By Sibahle Malinga, ITWeb senior news journalist.
Johannesburg, 05 Jul 2023

Bolt South Africa has added an audio-recording feature to its in-app safety toolkit, to enable riders and drivers of the e-hailing firm to record the trip for safety reasons.

According to a statement, the feature offers a solution in situations where riders or drivers may feel unsafe during the trip. The audio recording looks to serve as evidence in dispute resolution incidents.

This initiative forms part of Bolt's commitment to continually enhance the safety measures available on its platform.

Since inception, SA’s e-hailing industry has been tainted by incidents of violent attacks, and in some instances, drivers being hijacked or killed.

E-hailing drivers and operators have, over the past few years, held nationwide protests, urging government to intervene in the increasing incidences of crimes they are subjected to at the hands of criminals and rival metered taxi operators.

South African women have also been sharing their experiences of alleged sexual harassment and abuse at the hands of e-hailing drivers, urging for more stringent vetting processes for e-hailing drivers.

According to Bolt, to utilise the new audio trip recording feature, users can press the recording button in the app – which can be activated only when their Bolt trip is in progress.

Takura Malaba, regional manager, East and Southern Africa at Bolt, explains: “We continuously develop safety features and tools that address driver and passenger safety concerns. The audio trip recording feature is the newest addition to our in-app safety toolkit for our Bolt community to use if they’re ever feeling uncomfortable during a ride, offering drivers and passengers a high-quality ride-hailing experience.”

When necessary, the recorded audio can be easily retrieved by Bolt's customer support team, facilitating swift and efficient handling of safety-related concerns, it says.

Bolt’s audio feature comes after in September, Uber South Africa introduced its audio recording feature, to improve evidence collected on the safety cases that are reported by riders and drivers, said the company at the time.

In April, Bolt partnered with the Automobile Association as its new emergency response service provider, amid mounting calls for the e-hailing app to improve its security. The system shares smartphone GPS coordinates with the police or emergency services, which can be dispatched to the user's location without a phone call.

However, some drivers previously told ITWeb the in-app security does not work as intended, and is more focused on protecting Bolt riders than driver partners.

Other recently added safety features on the Bolt app include a driver selfie-verification feature to increase passenger safety by combating driver impersonation, and trip-sharing for real-time location-sharing with friends and family.

Bolt notes the audio feature's initial launch and testing will be limited to specific cities across SA, requiring users to have the most recent version of the Bolt app installed to access it.

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