Uber has been under fire for rider and driver safety for years, and while reports of assaults, robberies and worse are regular fodder for local news, it was hard to know the extent of the problem—until now. Uber released its first safety report yesterday looking at two years of data and, while the practice of using ride-hailing apps is mostly safe, there are some alarming figures to be aware of.
Uber admitted to 3,045 reported sexual assaults by its drivers in 2018 and 2,936 in 2017, the New York Times reports. The ride-hailing service also recorded 5,500 other incidents of groping or unwanted sexual touching in those two years. The attacks represent 0.0002 per cent of the 1.3 billion rides the app facilitated last year.
The report also showed 10 murders in 2017, and 9 murders in 2018, which was evenly split between driver and passenger deaths. In fact, drivers were actually the victims in 45 per cent of the total incidents. Uber also recorded 58 crash fatalities in 2018 and 49 in 2017.
Uber says 99.9 per cent of riders were safely ferried to their destinations, which is true. And many sexual assault awareness advocates are applauding Uber’s transparency. There are some caveats with the report, of course: it only details five categories of violence and, while Uber is a huge international company, this data only focuses on the U.S. The report itself is a result of several high-profile cases of attacks and lawsuits against the company for not doing more to protect people.
“The numbers are jarring and hard to digest,” Tony West, Uber’s chief legal officer, said in an interview with the Times. “What it says is that Uber is a reflection of the society it serves.”
According to Uber, its next step is to increase its safety team and partner with the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network to set up a hotline so riders and drivers can report attacks. Uber said it will also share information about suspicious drivers with its competitors, though there isn’t currently a timeline for that process.