Woman in Indonesia uses Grab emergency button to escape shady driver in viral cautionary tale

In a photo taken on Nov 20, 2018, a passenger enters a Grab private-hire car at Our Tampines Hub, Singapore.
In a photo taken on Nov 20, 2018, a passenger enters a Grab private-hire car at Our Tampines Hub, Singapore.PHOTO: ST FILE

JAKARTA (THE JAKARTA POST/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - A harrowing account of a woman using the "Emergency Help" feature provided by ride-hailing app Grab to extricate herself from a sticky situation went viral over the weekend, drawing attention to the features provided by such apps to protect both drivers and passengers.

Last Saturday (Feb 8), Twitter user @mllerasya shared posts from Instagram user @tiannnwu, who recounted a frightening car ride she experienced while using the GrabCar service, and how the "emergency button" feature possibly saved her life.

The Instagram user wrote on her post that she was using the GrabCar service to go to two different places, "the first was to my office in the Dharmawangsa area (in South Jakarta) to pick up my friend, then to a wedding expo at the Indonesia Convention Exhibition in Bumi Serpong Damai town (in South Tangerang)", she wrote in her post.

The driver of the car that she ordered did not follow her directions and took a different route, claiming to be directed there by a navigation app.

During the ride, she suddenly heard a sound of what she thought to be a walkie-talkie coming from the driver seat.

"I felt uneasy when I heard it. The driver repeatedly looked at me in the backseat while I tried not to panic," she wrote.

She said the car then suddenly veered onto a toll road, going even further away from her destination. She tried to get the driver to go back to the right way while trying to contact her boyfriend.

"The driver kept whispering something and saying some kind of code, I don't know who he was whispering to," she continued.

She said the driver made a sudden change in speed, possibly in an effort to make her drop her phone.

"But then I remembered there is an emergency button in the Grab app, so I pressed it and got connected to its emergency care," she wrote.

She explained her situation to the emergency operator while putting them on loudspeaker. The driver started speeding and saying loudly that he was going in the right direction.


"I asked if they could track my location and the operator told me that a Grab task force was on the way to my location... The driver started panicking and he dropped me off on the toll road," she wrote, adding that the emergency operators stayed on the line until she was picked up by a Grab officer, who then reported the incident to the police with her.

Grab provides an "Emergency Help" feature in its app so users can contact its call centre and emergency team in case either the passenger or driver feel that they are in danger. The feature also informs user-assigned emergency contacts when it is used.

Grab Indonesia public relations manager Andre Sebastian said the driver from @tiannnwu's story had been removed from the platform, pending further investigation into the matter.

"The incident has been handled in accordance with our commitment to provide passengers with the support and help that they need," Mr Andre said on Sunday as quoted by kompas.com. "The safety and security of passengers and drivers is Grab's main priority."

He added that he hoped the viral post would increase Grab users' awareness of the app's emergency features.

Grab's rival, homegrown ride-hailing app Gojek, also provides a similar feature called "Emergency Button" to connect users who felt threatened during rides to its emergency hotline.