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‘Hard to digest’: Uber’s 1st US safety report finds almost 6,000 sexual assaults reported in 2 years

‘Hard to digest’: Uber’s 1st US safety report finds almost 6,000 sexual assaults reported in 2 years
Uber has published its first safety report detailing the number of serious crimes committed by both drivers and riders that use the platform. “The numbers are jarring and hard to digest,” the firm’s chief legal officer said.

According to the self-produced report, in 2017, Uber received 2,936 reports of sexual assault in the US, with that number jumping to 3,045 in 2018. Amidst the startling figures are 229 reports of rape in 2017 and 235 reports of rape in 2018. Drivers reported sexual assaults at roughly the same rate as passengers though in 92 percent of the reported rapes the passenger was the victim. 

In addition to sexual assaults of varying severity, there were also nine murders and 58 people killed in car crashes. There was no information provided from the 65 countries outside the US where the ridesharing platform operates.

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“While these reports are rare, every report represents an individual who came forward to share an intensely painful experience,” Uber wrote. “Even one report is one too many.”

Riders accounted for nearly half of the accused parties in the five most serious sexual assault categories in the report, which ranges from inappropriate touching or kissing to non-consensual penetration. 

The company claims that all the incidents combined represent just 0.0002 percent of Uber’s 1.3 billion rides in the US last year. 

“The numbers are jarring and hard to digest,” Tony West, Uber’s chief legal officer, said in an interview. “What it says is that Uber is a reflection of the society it serves.”

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Uber has now implemented more stringent safety features including rolling background checks on drivers’ records, both driving and criminal, deactivating some 40,000 drivers since the checks were introduced. 

There is now an in-app 911 auto dialler and a feature called Ride Check which will activate if the GPS sensor in the driver’s phone notices an unusually long or unexpected stop in the journey. 

Uber rival Lyft is facing a class-action lawsuit from dozens of women alleging they were sexually assaulted during rides arranged through the service. Both Uber and Lyft have struggled recently amid bad press, with both staging poorly-performing initial public stock offerings. Uber posted a quarterly loss of $1.2 billion in November.

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