Didi rocked by second passenger killing in three months despite additional security measures
Didi confirms a complaint was made by a female passenger against driver one day before he confessed to killing another rider
A second killing in three months involving a passenger using Didi Chuxing’s ride-hitching service has placed the Chinese company back under scrutiny after stepped-up security measures failed to prevent the death.
Police in Leqing city in China’s eastern Zhejiang province said on Saturday they found the body of a 20-year-old female surnamed Zhao, and arrested a Didi driver who confessed to her rape and murder. The victim had sent a message to her friend a day earlier asking for help before she went missing. Investigations are still ongoing.
Didi, which ran the hitch-a-ride service, said it would not “shirk from responsibility” and expressed deep sorrow for the tragedy.
The case comes just three months after the death of a female user of Didi Hitch in Henan province sparked safety concerns, causing the Beijing-based start-up to suspend the ride-pooling service and step up safety measures.
The revamp included the introduction of mandatory facial-recognition scanning for all drivers on its platform before they take any orders, a move designed to prevent unauthorised persons from stealing the identity of Didi-registered drivers.
It also halted pairing up commuters heading in the same direction after 10pm and started to send automatic alerts to both passengers and car owners on unfinished trips between 10pm and 6am.
In the latest case, the arrested driver, whose family name is Zhong, had passed background checks and had no prior criminal record, according to Didi. He had registered with the company using his authentic ID, driver license and vehicle registration certificate, according to a statement on Saturday.
Having passed the facial-recognition scan in the morning, Zhong “physically altered the appearance of his number plate” before the trip, Didi said. The company said it assisted the police in their investigations and helped solve the case in 14 hours.
Nonetheless, the case is sure to revive public concerns over the safety of ride-hailing.
Among the complaints, the victim’s family and friends reportedly asked Didi to provide driver information immediately after receiving the message alert, but was told to first make a report with the police.
Didi said in response that it was unable to authenticate such requests and could only share the information with law enforcement agencies in the absence of permission from the passengers themselves.
But it acknowledged responsibility for failing to follow up with an investigation into a complaint made against the driver a day before the incident. In that complaint, another passenger said the same driver had requested she sit in the front passenger seat, and had driven the vehicle to a remote area and followed the passenger for a distance after she got off.
The company said it would offer a minimum of three times of financial compensation required by law to the family of the victim in Leqing.
“Whatever the reason, we will not shirk from our responsibilities in this,” Didi said.