Uber Putting Bop It! In Cars to Occupy Drunk Passengers

The infantilization of America takes another step forward.

byWill Sabel Courtney|
Car Tech photo


In an attempt to keep drunk passengers from harassing, haranguing or hitting those kind souls behind the wheel, Uber is running a pilot program in Charlotte, North Carolina, in which drivers try to distract tipsy riders by leaving a Bop-It! in the backseat.

“An intoxicated rider who is engaged in something interesting is less likely to be irritable and aiming aggression at the driver,” Uber chief security officer Joe Sullivan tells The Guardian.

As Uber has grown in popularity, dealing with inebriated, sometimes violent passengers has become a growing problem for the company. Taxi drivers have been dealing with drunks for decades, but unlike many cabs, Uber cars usually lack the divider separating drivers from customers that shields hacks from attack. As a result, passenger-on-driver violence has become shockingly common.

And with Uber keenly aware of the importance of driver happiness. It’s in the company’s best interest to keep them unmolested, on the road—and earning the company money.

Anyone who watched Saturday morning cartoons in the mid-to-late Nineties is likely familiar with Bop It! Just reading about it may’ve triggered flashbacks of its incessant, rapid-fire advertisements. For those who missed out (or repressed those memories), Bop It! is a handheld plastic toy that issues verbal commands to the player, demanding he or she grab it by the hilt and “twist” or “whack” or “pull” or “flick” it and oh my God I’m just now realizing how sexual this thing is.

The Bop It! offensive isn’t the only measure the company is taking to curb combative customers. Uber drivers in Seattle, for example, are installing mirrors that face the back seat. Studies have shown that people tend to be less likely to be aggressive when they see their own reflection. Apparently having to watch oneself do something entirely immoral to a decent person is a deterrent. Who knew?

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