Uber Says Almost 3,000 Sexual Assaults Were Reported in 2018

A sign marks a pickup point for the Uber car service at La Guardia Airport in New York

A sign marks a pickup point for the Uber car service at La Guardia Airport in New York

Uber and competitor Lyft have faced legal action related to safety issues around the country. The companies have been criticized over background check processes and responses to sexual assaults during rides.

Changes you'll see in the app will include an option for a four digit PIN that helps drivers and riders verify each other, the national rollout of the ability to report non-safety issues during a ride and text-to-911 support within the app for both riders and drivers, as riders make up almost half the accused parties on serious sexual assault categories.

More than 20 unnamed passengers are suing Lyft over alleged sexual assault by drivers in a lawsuit filed this week, and in another lawsuit, Lyft customer Alison Turkos is suing the Uber rival on 11 counts, including vicarious liability for assault with a deadly weapon, sexual assault, sexual battery and breach of contract, after her driver allegedly kidnapped her, drove her across state lines, and raped her. "Most companies don't talk about issues like sexual violence because doing so risks inviting negative headlines and public criticism".

London refused to renew Uber's license to operate in the city in November after the company was plagued with safety issues including concerns about impostor drivers. "What it says is that Uber is a reflection of the society it serves". Uber instituted an in-app safety tool kit with a 911 button so passengers can alert authorities immediately if they are in danger, and added check-ins for riders and drivers when trips veer too far off course.

Lyft said a year ago it would also release a safety report. Making things even more complicated, sexual assault is a vastly underreported crime, with two out of three assaults going unreported to police. A company spokeswoman confirmed Thursday that it "remained committed" to releasing a report, but did not say when.

Bomberger said he believes 80% to 90% of the assaults in the Uber report could have been prevented by measures such as cameras in the cars recording rides and the companies reporting each assault it learns of to the police.

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The Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network said it appreciated Uber's transparency.

Uber's report, which looked at the time period of 2017 and 2018, examined data during a time period for which it said an average of more than 3.1 million trips took place each day. Uber says this represents about half of the national rate for fatal crashes.

The other assaults fell into categories such as non-consensual kissing or touching.

The vast majority of those had no problem, it noted, placing that number at 99.9 percent.

The company also said Uber rides were involved in 58 traffic fatalities, and nine murders in 2018.

An Uber spokesperson told CP24 they are working on a similar report for Canada but there is no timeline for when it will be released.

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