Murder of Didi driver thrusts ride-hailing security into the spotlight once again

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A Didi driver has allegedly been murdered by a passenger in the central Chinese city of Changde, once again drawing attention to safety standards on the ride-hailing platform.

The incident occurred early Sunday morning when a 19-year-old suspect stabbed the driver, surnamed Chen, before disembarking, according to law enforcement in the city.

Police said that the suspect turned himself in shortly after committing the crime.

“We have formed an emergency response team to fully cooperate with police while sending representatives to visit the family of the vicitim,” Didi said in a Weibo announcement (in Chinese). A Didi spokesperson told TechNode that the driver worked for the company’s Express service.

The incident follows Didi’s increased focus on safety after it experienced public outcry and government censure after two passengers were killed by their drivers on separate occasions last year. Those occurrences took place on Didi’s carpooling platform Hitch, which has subsequently been halted indefinitely.

This is not the first time a Didi driver has been killed by a passenger. In 2017, a driver surnamed Ao was killed by 22-year-old passenger Li Qingbing in Foshan, a city in the southern province of Guangdong. Li later appeared in court and pleaded guilty to the crime. A year later, another driver was killed in Guizhou province after being robbed of more than RMB 2,000 (around $300). His body was later found under a bridge.

Didi has implemented a number of safety upgrades, including a panic button for passengers and a driver-passenger blacklisting function. According to an announcement last week, nearly 140 million people have added an emergency contact to their Didi app. However, most of the focus has fallen on passenger safety.

Additional reporting by Jill Shen.