Kidnapping and assaults occurring during Uber trips have become common news stories lately. Based on previous stories, we could only assume the kinds of complaints that Uber was getting, but now, Uber has revealed the severity and volume of its complaints over the past two years.
Uber received 5,981 claims of sexual assault in the U.S. in 2017 and 2018. While there were 2.3 billion Uber trips over those two years, making the number of sexual assaults just a fraction of a percent of total trips, that’s still too many for a service intended to get its customers from point A to point B safely. According to the report, over half of those accused were the drivers during the trip.
Uber reports that the sexual assault claims fall into five major categories: nonconsensual kissing of a nonsexual body part, attempted nonconsensual sexual penetration, nonconsensual touching of a sexual body part, nonconsensual kissing of a sexual body part, and nonconsensual sexual penetration. The report does not include other types of sexual misconduct, like verbal abuse.
Tony West, Uber’s chief legal officer said about the claims, “At the scale that Uber operates, we’re going to see both the good and the bad that happens in society because we’re operating so many trips every single day.” But it’s also important to keep in mind that reporting rates for sexual assault are low, so the data only represents incidents that were reported.
What is Being Done About the Claims?
When reports like this break, we need to know what is being done to improve safety and reporting. Any form of sexual assault can affect survivors for the rest of their lives, so they need to know that changes are being made to prevent incidents from happening to anyone else.
Uber said in their report that upon a claim of sexual assault, the accused party’s access to the Uber app is immediately removed and support agents complete a review. The accused is then banned from the Uber community once the survivor provides a statement and the company obtains relevant facts.
Since there is still room for improvement on their reporting system and the way to address claims, Uber is working with the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, RALIANCE Business, and other groups to make necessary and helpful changes. On top of consulting advocacy groups, Uber says they are also taking these steps to improve safety:
- Deactivation sharing. Uber is finding a way to share the names of drivers who have been banned from their app because they violated safety guidelines with other rideshare apps. This would keep the driver from moving to another platform after being banned from one.
- New features. New safety verification features will be available, like a secure PIN to verify they have the correct driver, direct text messaging with 911, and reporting safety violations while they happen, not after the ride is over, which was the previous setup.
- Uber Survivor Support Hotline. Uber has partnered with RAINN, the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization, to develop a Survivor Support Hotline that provides help with survivors of sexual violence. This hotline will roll out in 2020.
- Sexual misconduct education for all drivers. They are also partnering with RAINN to have all drivers complete sexual misconduct and assault education in 2020.
In the meantime, if you experience an incident of sexual assault you will have to go through the current method of reporting to Uber.
How You Can Report a Safety Issue in a Rideshare?
To report an incident to Uber, you would go through the Uber app, and go to the Help menu. There, you can contact their 24/7 Safety Support team to report a safety issue. You can also go online to report an incident where are separate reporting sites for riders, drivers, UberEats customers, and restaurants.
Even after reporting sexual assault to the rideshare company, you might want to file a claim against your abuser. That’s where we come in. At Thomas Law Offices, we understand the amount of courage it takes to not only report sexual assault but also follow through with a case against your abuser. We will handle your case with ample care and compassion so that you can bring your abuser to justice. With our legal support, we’ll ensure you feel comfortable every step of the way. If you want to schedule a free consultation for your case, reach out to us today.