It is no secret that rideshares can be dangerous – from physical violence to sexual assault, taking an Uber or Lyft carries its fair share of risks. Historically, these companies have said little about their involvement in these incidents.
However, Uber is beginning to take more responsibility for informing their passengers of the risks involved with using their service. In 2019, Uber is releasing reports of sexual assault for the public to see.
The Problem of Sexual Assaults in Ubers
Sexual violence is a deeply rooted problem throughout the United States – and Uber is no exception to this. Many people report sexual assault, harassment, and misconduct at the hands of these rideshare drivers. In addition, many rideshare drivers experience sexual violence at the hands of their passengers. The incidents can range from discomfort to violent assault, leaving passengers with significant emotional and physical trauma.
Historically, Uber has done little to protect their passengers and drivers from these incidents of violence. The app does have safety features installed for emergency services – but the response from the company itself has been disappointing.
Many drivers report waiting days to hear back from the company after reporting an incident of violence. Passengers feel as if Uber refused to take their concerns seriously. The company does suspend the accounts of drivers and passengers who commit acts of violence – but it does not take this action in all cases, and the victims do not see this as a big enough response.
In addition, Uber used to have mandatory arbitration agreements in place to keep claims of sexual assault and harassment associated with the company out of court. However, Uber ceased this policy in May 2018.
Uber’s Sexual Assault Report Release
In November 2018, Uber announced that it will release a safety transparency report in 2019 to the public. This report will have data on all incidents of sexual violence experienced in Uber vehicles and in the Uber corporate workplace. The company claims that these numbers will help keep them accountable.
As of August 2019, the company still has not released this report. However, the release of the report does carry a few benefits – Uber can no longer sweep the epidemic of sexual violence under the rug. Perhaps the company will implement real changes to its sexual assault reporting and investigation process, with the focus on helping the victim.
What Can Uber Passengers Do to Stay Safe?
Sexual violence in Ubers and Lyfts are far too common, and these companies do not respond to these incidents as quickly as they should. However, there are a few tips for rideshare passengers and drivers alike that can increase their safety on the road.
- Do not be afraid to cancel a ride if the Uber driver or passenger has a low rating. Ratings help other passengers see if the driver or passenger has a history of bad behavior before the ride. If a driver or passenger has a rating below 4.5 stars, consider canceling.
- If you are a passenger riding alone, sit in the backseat. A driver has easier access to you if you sit in the front.
- Whether you are a driver or a passenger, you should share your trip with trusted friends and family. Let them know when you are riding and use the trip sharing feature to share your Uber’s information.
- Before you get into an Uber, double-check the driver’s information in the app. Verify the license plate number, the driver name, and the make and model of the car. Ask him or her who he or she is there to pick up.
With the release of this data, Uber hopes to further inform the public on the state of sexual assaults in its rideshare vehicles. However, this action seems to do little to help reduce the rate of sexual assault. If you are the victim of a sexual assault in an Uber, contact a rideshare attorney as soon as possible to share your story and discuss your options for moving forward.