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Raising the Bar: Onward’s Commitment to Rider Safety

Onward companion driver carefully fastening the seatbelt for a rider, ensuring their safety and comfort before the journey begins.

For the community of riders that Onward serves, transportation is much more than a journey from point A to B. Companion Rides, Onward’s signature service, are perfect for anyone who needs a little extra help. They’re most frequently used by aging adults, medical patients who have undergone dialysis or anesthesia, and individuals with mild mobility impairments. 

For these folks, transportation can be complicated. Something as seemingly harmless as a sidewalk curb can be the difference between success and failure without support, and when it comes to access to healthcare, that’s a really big deal. 

For that reason, we’ve prioritized what riders care about most in their transportation - hiring and training our team of Companion Drivers to support riders when and how they need it, and delivering on Onward’s promise: helping vulnerable riders navigate to and from their destination safely. 

Rider extending a helping hand, embodying the spirit of community and support within the Onward service.Rider extending a helping hand, embodying the spirit of community and support within the Onward service.

Let's explore the key elements of our safety program that builds confidence and trust with our community of riders, drivers, and caregivers. 

1: Companion Transportation: A Safe, Seamless Experience

Companion Rides are a new level of transportation designed to support individuals with mild mobility impairments. The assisted transportation offers riders a door-through-door transport to overcome mobility and transportation challenges such as navigating stairs and curbs.

Onward companion driver attentively assisting a rider as they navigate down a flight of stairs, ensuring safety and stability with every step.

Drivers are trained to support riders with additional functions of daily living such as putting on shoes or jackets, providing assistance in and out of their vehicles, and navigating all the way through the doors of the destination. Supporting seamless experiences, Onward has made a number of additional enhancements. 

  1. Payment happens within the app or is facilitated by the ordering facility, creating a cashless environment for riders. 

  2. Our matching algorithm utilizes rider feedback and preferences to frequently pair riders and drivers together. Recurring pairings set the stage for engaged rides, and community, combating isolation with familiar faces. 

  3. The door-through-door nature of the service alleviates safety concerns that often become barriers. Providing support for nearly every barrier that a rider could overcome throughout their journey, we can confidently create seamless experiences for individuals whose transportation is infrequently simple. 

  4. Wait and Return Trips with the same driver. Onward offers a Wait and Return trip type for riders who prefer to leave with the same companion driver. For riders with mild cognitive impairments, this is a popular option. 

  5. For caregivers and loved ones, staying informed has historically been challenging. Technology integrated into both rider and driver apps enables real time trip tracking and notifications to keep everyone informed. 

  6. Lastly, because transportation questions and changes do arise, our  US based Concierge team is ready to assist. The Concierge team is a resource available to Riders, Caregivers, Family Members and Healthcare Providers. They can be reached via chat in the app or on our website, as well as directly over the phone at 1-800-700-4797. 

In order to accommodate a seamless experience for everyone using Onward, setting the stage for a safe, stress-free and enjoyable experience became our north star. We hope thoughtful accommodations for riders and their care teams builds trust and confidence in Onward’s rideshare services. 

2: Rigorous Screening Processes to Create Peace of Mind 

Safety begins with trust, and trust is earned. 

Both Companion Drivers and their vehicles must be a good fit. Vehicles are screened for condition, recency, and function to ensure that mobility impaired riders can comfortably enter and exit. 

Onward companion driver and rider sharing a moment of connection and conversation during a safe and comfortable drive to their destination.

Our Companion Drivers also undergo a comprehensive screening process to ensure that they are thoroughly vetted and fit for the role. Drivers are Livescan, fingerprinted,  background checked, and drug tested so that riders and caregivers have the peace of mind they need to focus on their day. 

Taking this commitment a step further, we’ve implemented hiring practices to screen for empathy and compassion. Our rule of thumb is that if we’re not comfortable with our family members in a vehicle with a driver, then they’re not the right fit to be driving yours.

3: Specialized Tools and Training 

Onward drivers undergo specialized training to support riders with mobility impairments, completing virtual and in person training to practice proper physical assistance and support methods. Drivers carry current First Aid and CPR Certifications and are prepared to assist riders in the event of an emergency. During training, drivers learn important skills to support riders with wheelchairs and walkers and practice identification of early warnings like slurring speech or stumbling. Training also highlights common reasons that riders choose the Companion Ride mode of transportation. 

Leveraging technology to implement real-time safety protocols, each trip is tracked via GPS. Real-Time monitoring ensures support on every journey for both riders and companion drivers. This integration of technology with proactive alerts to our concierge team allows us to respond swiftly to any unforeseen circumstances.

 4: A Culture of Continuous Improvement

Onward employs a data-driven approach, continuously monitoring rider feedback and analyzing performance metrics. This approach affords us a few capabilities; making sure we only hire the best of the best, identifying areas for enhancement, refining our safety protocols, and staying ahead of industry standards. Collectively the approach ensures that our commitment to safety evolves with the changing needs of our riders.

Requesting feedback from riders after every trip also allows us to elevate positive reviews as well as areas of improvement internally with the team. Internal communication forums are places where tips and tricks, learnings, and more are shared between companion drivers. 

5: Staying Informed about rider safety

A safety program centered around companionship would be incomplete without acknowledging the role and function of the caregiving team. Configurable notifications enable the delivery of real time updates to caregiving teams and family members to ensure that everyone is seamlessly informed. 

Onward companion driver escorting a rider through the door of a medical facility for their doctor's appointment, providing support and companionship.

Onward isn’t just another rideshare service; it's a commitment to creating a safer, more accessible world for individuals with mobility challenges. From the moment our drivers arrive at the doorstep to the end of the journey, we prioritize safety through a combination of specialized training, rigorous hiring and screening processes, technology that is purpose build for supporting people with disabilities, and a culture of continuous improvement. 

Safety is our mission, and we're driving towards a future where every journey is a secure and empowering experience.


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