Starting September 8, Didi suspended seven late-night services for a week as it rushed to implement a host of new safety features, including audio recording on Express and Premier trips, a mandatory daily safety test for drivers, and an improved panic button to contact police. The upgrades followed widespread public outrage over two high-profile murders of Didi passengers in recent months.

Despite the improvements, China National Radio called out the ride-hailing company for potentially misleading users about its emergency button. Although the feature is branded as “一键报警,” usually interpreted as “one click to call the police,” it actually prompts passengers to tap at least twice to contact authorities.

According to the Didi app, clicking the button brings passengers to a page with information about their car, driver, and location. From there, users must tap again to text or call the police, with either action automatically sending their trip information to all emergency contacts via text. At the same time, users will receive an identical message on their own phones.

Image credit: Didi

When asked whether the apparent misnomer could pose a safety risk for passengers in emergency situations, a Didi representative referred TechNode to materials stating that the vast majority of users “test” the function by tapping once but don’t follow up by initiating an emergency call or text. According to the statement, Didi also has more improvements planned for the button.

“We are exploring ways to tackle external constraints and have the trip information sent to police automatically through partnerships with law enforcement agencies.”

Another document shared with TechNode compared safety features of multiple ride-hailing services. It showed that Didi’s new daily facial recognition checks and plans to cooperate further with Chinese police now set it apart from its competitors.

Bailey Hu is based in China’s hardware capital, Shenzhen. Her interests include local maker culture, grassroots innovation and how tech shapes society, as well as vice versa.

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