Last year, Uber released its first-ever comprehensive safety report. The report consists of data Uber gathered from its rides in the US, spanning the full length of 2018 and part of 2017. Uber’s first safety report said that 99.9% of Uber rides ended without any safety reports. The remaining 0.1% had minor safety issues, like harsh braking and over speeding. That leaves 0.0003% of the rides, which have been subject to much controversy. Included in the Uber critical accidents were 464 rapes that occurred in 2017 and 2018 combined. 235 rapes happened in Uber rides in 2018 alone. That’s an average of 4 rapes per week.
There were more than 3,000 other incidents of sexual assault over the course of two years. Incidents that range from kissing to attempted rape. Uber also recorded 5,500 other incidents of groping or non-consensual sexual touching in 2017 and 2018. Uber’s first safety report also shows 9 murders in 2018 and 10 murders in 2017. This number was evenly split between passenger and driver deaths. The drivers were the victims in 45 percent of the cases. Also included in the report were 58 crash fatalities in 2018 and 49 in 2017.
The most common sexual assault case in the report was of groping, which had 1,560 reports in 2018 and 1,440 reports in 2017. Tony West, Uber’s Chief Legal Officer, wrote in a blog post, “Voluntarily publishing a report that discusses these difficult safety issues is not easy. Most companies don’t talk about issues like sexual violence because doing so risks inviting negative headlines and public criticism. But we feel it’s time for a new approach.”
Many drivers and passengers have come forward in the past years, alleging sexual assault during rides. Uber has faced many lawsuits against people who were saying that they were kidnapped, raped, or groped by the driver. Ride-hailing service Lyft has also been sued by at least 56 women for the same reasons. A woman from California said that she was raped by a Lyft driver in 2017. She also sued the company for failing to keep riders safe. According to Uber, it has removed more than 40,000 drivers from the service using improved automated screening technology to check criminal histories.
Tony West sympathized with the victims by saying, “Each of those incidents represents an individual who has undergone a horrific trauma. But I’m not surprised by those numbers. And I’m not surprised because sexual violence is just much more pervasive in society than I think most people realize.”
According to Uber, the next step is to increase its safety team and collaborate with the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network to set up a hotline where drivers and riders can report assaults. Uber has also made it clear that it will also share information about suspicious drivers with its competitors.
Uber has also created a ride verification system for passengers that uses a unique four-digit PIN. The company said that it would continue to release safety reports every two years.