Uber says it received over 3,000 reports of sexual assault in US in 2018

Uber received a total of 5,981 allegations of serious sexual assault in the U.S. in 2017 and 2018, according to a new report. The claims range from unwanted touching and kissing to rape.

Ride-hailing firm Uber said it received over 3,000 reports of sexual assault-related to its 1.3 billion rides in the United States last year, in a report aimed at ensuring drivers and the public it was serious about safety.
That figure includes 229 rapes across the company’s 1.3 billion rides. The ride-hailing company noted that drivers and riders were both attacked, and that some assaults occurred between riders.
The firm also said reports of assaults on passengers overlooked risks for drivers as riders accounted for roughly half of the accused.
The 84-page report comes almost two weeks after Uber said it would appeal the loss of its license to carry passengers in London over a “pattern of failures” on safety and security.
Uber, which in the past has faced criticism over safety on its platform and has been repeatedly hit with lawsuits over driver misconduct, last year committed to releasing a safety report in a sign of a cultural turnaround under its new CEO.
The firm, which operates in 70 countries, said the report showed its commitment to transparency to improve accountability and safety industry-wide. It said it would use what it learned producing the report for its “next steps” in other places.
“I suspect many people will be surprised at how rare these incidents are; others will understandably think they’re still too common,” Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi tweeted about the report. “Some people will appreciate how much we’ve done on safety; others will say we have more work to do. They will all be right.”
Uber’s share price dropped more than 1% in after-hours trading.
Uber and competitor Lyft have faced harsh criticism for not doing enough to protect the safety of their riders and drivers. Dozens of women are suing Lyft, claiming the company should have done more to protect them from driver assaults. A Connecticut woman sued Uber last month, claiming she was sexually assaulted by her driver.
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. Uber said it will appeal the decision.
The companies have both formed partnerships with sexual assault prevention networks and other safety groups, and have touted their background check policies for drivers. But many say they haven’t gone far enough to protect passengers and drivers, who are contract workers for the companies.
“Keeping this information in the dark doesn’t make anyone safer,” Uber said in a statement announcing the report. It plans to release its safety report every two years going forward.
Lyft said last year it would also release a safety report. A company spokeswoman confirmed on Thursday that it “remained committed” to releasing a report, but did not say when.
Mike Bomberger, a lawyer representing more than 100 victims of sexual assault in lawsuits against Uber and Lyft, applauded Uber for releasing the numbers. “One of the problems with both of these companies is that they have hidden and have tried to conceal the number of sexual assaults that occur in their vehicles,” he said.
In response, an Uber spokesperson pointed to the just-released report. Lyft called Bomberger’s charge “baseless.”
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 every assault they learn of to the police.
The Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network said it appreciated Uber’s transparency.
“This is an issue that affects every institution in America,” RAINN press secretary Emily Robinson said in a statement. She added that organizations in every industry, including education, should “make a similar effort to track and analyze sexual misconduct within their communities.”
The report stated that Uber rides were involved in 97 reported crashes in 2017 and 2018, resulting in 107 deaths. The company said the figure represents about half of the national rate for fatal crashes.
Sexual assault in the report is defined broadly into categories including non-consensual kissing of a non-sexual body part, attempted non-consensual sexual penetration, non-consensual touching of a sexual body part, non-consensual kissing of a sexual body part and non-consensual sexual penetration.
The company also said Uber rides were involved in nine murders during 2018, and 10 during 2017.
Uber noted that the vast majority — 99.9% — of its rides had no reported safety issues.–DT

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