WXYZ in Detroit reports that due to the rising number of recent ridesharing assaults, two former Detroit police officers have designed a self-defense class geared specifically toward empowering drivers and passengers.
The class is free at Grindtime Fitness in Detroit and happens every third Saturday of the month. The class teaches basic moves to get out of a potentially dangerous situation while inside of a vehicle. Retired DPD Officer Ron Griffin serves as the main instructor.
“They’ve got to be able to protect themselves. That’s just somebody’s right,” Griffin said. “The fight is happening real time, right then and there, what are they going to do?”
While the class is open to both men and women, many of the maneuvers are geared specifically toward women in the event of taking on an attacker larger than themselves.
“When that woman is capable and prepared to defend herself, it’s going to throw him off. And the goal is not to beat him up, it’s just to survive and get away,” said retired officer John Smith, who owns Grindtime Fitness.
Uber released a safety report for 2018, which showed 3,000 sexual assaults were reported during its U.S. rides. The company bases those numbers on reports from drivers and passengers.
When WXYZ reached out to Lyft for its latest safety report numbers, a company spokesperson told the news channel that the information is not available.
Lyft and Uber have both faced lawsuits from Estey & Bomberger on behalf of passengers who were attacked by their drivers. We have been advocating for victims for years, and will not stop until these companies adopt better policies to protect their passengers.
In April 2018, a Pontiac woman was raped by her Lyft driver.
“She used this driver several times. The driver gained her trust,” said Major Christopher Wundrach with the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office.
According to sheriff’s deputies, the driver started texting the woman outside of the Lyft app. He then lured her to a health spa under the promise that she’d get paid to have a massage and to take a survey. Once the driver had her there, investigators said she was drugged and assaulted.
Raheel Bin Hanif, the driver, was convicted and sentenced 8 to 30 years behind bars.
If you’re using a ridesharing app, the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office suggests following these guidelines to increase safety.
1. Wait for your ride inside, or in a well-lit area
2. Always ask the driver to confirm your name first
3. Keep your phone in your hand, and install a 911 app that allows you to contact police with a single button
4. Use the Lyft or Uber app directly, and don’t just give drivers your contact information
5. If possible share a ride with a friend.
Uber has made steps towards the safety of their riders, including a new feature live in several U.S. cities including Detroit, that allows users to opt-in for a PIN verification system.