In June, Uber released its (delayed due to the pandemic) 2020 safety report. Although the rideshare company noted its rate of sexual assaults had dropped since its last report, the rate of fatal accidents had increased. The report is, in part, a continuation of their 2019 safety review, which Uber puts together using data and methods from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
… in response to a 2018 CNN investigation into drivers on the platform accused of sexual assault or abuse by passengers since 2014, based on publicly available data including police reports.
Following Uber’s first report, the California Public Utilities Commission fined Uber $59 million for failing to turn over additional data on sexual assaults and harassment incidents on its platform.
Lyft, meanwhile, released its first ever safety report in October 2021, disclosing that it received 4,158 reports of sexual assault on its platform from 2017 to 2019. Lyft, unlike Uber, has not made public any commitment to release future reports on the topic.
Sexual assaults down, fatal accidents up
The report is available in full on Uber’s website; the following are some high-level numbers from CNN:
- 3,824 reports of the five “most severe categories” of sexual assault, from “non-consensual kissing of a non-sexual body part” to “non-consensual sexual penetration”
- 91% of the victims of rape were riders and 7% of the victims were drivers
- 20 fatalities as a result of physical assaults
- 101 fatalities as a result of Uber-related car accidents
Uber’s report also discusses the success and effectiveness of the various safety measures they’ve implemented in the past few years, pointing out that their driver background check feature has resulted in tens of thousands of drivers being removed from the app.
However, Cherri Murphy, a former Lyft driver and spokeswoman for Gig Workers Rising, said in a statement to the New York Times, “Uber executives want you to think that throwing numbers and statistics at the reporters will fool us into believing Uber is safe for workers and for passengers. But workers have long known that the safety features they speak of are fake, and fail to keep workers safe.”
Staying safe as an Uber passenger
You can take a few steps to protect your safety when using a rideshare vehicle:
- Stay inside while requesting and waiting for your ride, especially if you’re in an unknown or rural area.
- Double check that you have the right vehicle before getting inside. Your app will show you the make, model, and license plate of your Uber, as well as the name of the driver.
- Sit in the back seat, not the front. This gives you access to both doors in case you need to make an emergency exit.
- Tell a friend where you are. Your app should have a “share status” feature, where you can send details of your trip as well as the Uber driver’s information, that you can send to a friend of family member.
- Wear your seat belt at all times. In the event of a car accident, a seat belt is the best way to avoid life-threatening injuries.
- Don’t share personal information with your driver. Your Uber driver doesn’t need to know where you’re going or why, and if the place you’re being dropped off is your home.
- If you are too intoxicated to think clearly, have a friend come with you. Passengers who are too drunk or impaired are a danger to both themselves and the Uber driver.
- Trust your instincts. If you sense something is wrong – if your driver seems intoxicated, driving recklessly, or has another person in the car with them – you have the right to refuse the ride or cut it short if you feel unsafe. You can also press the Emergency button in the app.
Staying safe as an Uber driver
It’s not always passengers at risk in rideshare vehicles – drivers can also suffer assaults or injuries in car accidents. Uber advises their drivers to take the following steps to protect their own safety:
- Verify your rider by ensuring they’re the same person who called for the ride, and that you are the correct driver.
- Stay focused and alert. Don’t drive distracted or fatigued, and ensure you keep your eyes on the road. Don’t text and drive, and take the time to set your GPS and check your apps while you’re pulled over.
- Protect your personal information. Don’t share your personal information or phone number with passengers. Uber’s app anonymizes driver’s phone numbers so passengers won’t see your cellphone number.
- Buckle up and ask your passengers to do the same. Seat belts save lives and in many places, it’s the law.
- Look out for pedestrians and bicyclists, especially during drop-offs and pickups, and when visibility is low (like at night or early morning).
- Make legal drop-offs only. Make sure you understand the local laws about where you can and can’t drop off and pick up passengers. Breaking these laws can potentially result in a car accident.
- Trust your instincts. Just like passengers, if you feel unsafe, you can end a ride at any time. You can also press the Emergency button in your app.
If you’ve been injured or assaulted in an Uber – whether as a passenger or driver – talk to the attorneys at Slack Davis Sanger today. We advocate for those who have suffered harm in rideshare vehicles through no fault of their own, and we want to help. To schedule a free consultation about your case, call us at 800-455-8686, or submit our contact form today. We have offices in Dallas, Austin, and Fort Worth.