Uber safety review discloses thousands of sexual assault reports

Ride-share giant releases first safety report of its kind

Uber received thousands of reports of alleged sexual assault during rides in 2017 and 2018, including hundreds of alleged rapes, according to statistics disclosed by the ride-share giant that provide the most detailed account to date of its safety-related issues.

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Passengers and drivers reported 5,981 instances of alleged sexual assault out of 2.3 billion trips completed in the U.S. over that time period. The total included 235 reports of rape in 2018 alone, as well as 1,560 reports of non-consensual touching of a sexual body part that year. Passengers were the reported victims in 92 percent of the incidents.

Uber said reports of sexual assault dropped 16 percent from 2017 to 2018. The statistics showed such reports were rare given the sheer scale of trips it completed over that time period – an allegation of rape surfaced in 0.00002 percent of rides.

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“Confronting sexual violence requires honesty, and it’s only by shining a light on these issues that we can begin to provide clarity on something that touches every corner of society,” Uber’s chief legal officer Tony West said in the review. “And, most importantly, by bringing hard data to bear, we can make every trip safer for drivers and riders alike.”

Uber has overhauled its safety features in recent years in response to widespread scrutiny over the conduct of its drivers. The company conducts background checks on its drivers on an annual basis and added emergency contact features for passengers, among other safety measures.

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However, ride-sharing firms have faced a series of lawsuits in recent years from passengers alleging they were assaulted by drivers. Uber’s chief rival, Lyft, was sued by 19 women over alleged sexual assaults that took place during rides.

Uber noted 107 deaths from vehicle crashes over the two-year period, including 58 in 2018. The company also reported 19 murders from interactions that occurred through its app in 2017 and 2018. Of the 19 victims, eight were passengers and seven were drivers.

Uber’s safety review found that 99.9 percent of rides ended without a safety-related issue. The company detailed incidents according to its own methodology and classifications, creating a thorough but potentially incomplete account.

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