Topline: Uber said on Thursday it received 5,981 reports of sexual assault during 2017 and 2018—a disclosure that comes amid long-standing complaints and lawsuits from riders about passenger safety.
- In a first-of-its-kind safety report, Uber said that of the 3,045 reported sexual assaults in 2018, 235 were counted as rape and 280 as attempted rape.
- The rest of the sexual assaults were listed in categories such as nonconsensual kissing and nonconsensual touching. The largest category—1,560 incidents in 2018—was “non-consensual touching of a sexual body part,” such as someone’s mouth or genitals.
- Much of the attention has been on riders’ reports, but drivers face dangers too. Forty-two percent of sexual assault reports were filed by drivers who had reported nonconsensual contact, and riders were the ones accused of sexual assault 45% of the time.
- Nine people were murdered in Uber rides in 2018; ten were killed in 2017.
- The report found that 58 people died in vehicle accidents during 2018 and 49 people died in 2017.
- The report emphasizes that rides with severe safety issues made up only 0.0003% of the total trips made in 2017 and 2018.
Crucial quote: Uber’s chief legal officer, Tony West, said in an interview with NBC Nightly News host Lester Holt that he’s not surprised by the numbers. “And I’m not surprised because sexual violence is just much more pervasive in society than I think most people realize.”
“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. And most importantly, by bringing hard data to bear, we can make every trip safer for drivers and riders alike,” West added in a blog post.
Key background: Uber has been criticized and sued for not doing enough to protect passengers from sexual assault during rides. Over the years, the company has added safety features to address the problem, such as conducting background checks on drivers each year, instead of only when they sign up.
Uber has also added an in-app emergency button that lets riders call or text 911. It also said recently it would work with other ride-hailing companies to share the names of drivers who have been banned.
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In September, the company said it would start rolling out PIN codes to help make sure riders are getting into the correct car.
The update comes after a University of South Carolina student was killed after getting into a car with a man she mistook for an Uber driver. If a passenger has PIN codes turned on, the driver won’t be able to start the ride until the passenger gives the correct PIN.