Ride-hailing firm Uber announced it received over 3,000 reports of sexual assaults in the US last year in a voluntary report published.
The report details safety statistics in the US for the last two years in 2017 and 2018. In 2017, 2,936 reported incidents of sexual assault were recorded, compared to 3,045 in 2018. That means on average eight reports of sexual assault were reported each day connected to Uber’s ride-hailing service.
The detailed 84-page document is broken down into categories of sexual assault. In 2018, there were 235 reported cases of ‘Non-Consensual Sexual Penetration’ recorded, compared to 229 the previous year. Whilst there was an increase in number of reports, it did represent a decrease in frequency of the incidents reported, as the number of Uber rides rose from 1blllion to 1.3billion during the same time period.
Uber says in the report that the vast majority (99.9%) of Uber trips end without any safety-related issue at all.
Dara Khosrowshahi, Uber’s CEO, said via a series of posts on social media: “Doing the right thing means counting, confronting, and taking action to end sexual assault. My heart is with every survivor of this all-too-pervasive crime. Our work will never be done, but we take an important step forward today
“I suspect many people will be surprised at how rare these incidents are; others will understandably think they’re still too common. Some people will appreciate how much we’ve done on safety; others will say we have more work to do. They will all be right.
“In the long run, we will be a better company for taking this step today—because I firmly believe that companies who are open, accountable, and unafraid are ultimately the companies that succeed.”
The stark publication, produced voluntarily by Uber, comes only two weeks after the firm lost its ability to operate in London on the grounds of safety.
In the report, Uber highlight the fact more than 40,000 drivers have been removed from the app due to continuous screening. These checks included performing annual background check reruns and technology which monitors and flags new criminal offenses through a number of data sources.
Tony West, Uber’s Chief Legal Officer, said: “Voluntarily publishing a report that discusses these difficult safety issues is not easy. Most companies don’t talk about issues like sexual violence because doing so risks inviting negative headlines and public criticism. But we feel it’s time for a new approach. As someone who has prosecuted sex crimes and worked on these issues for more than 25 years, I can tell you that a new approach is sorely needed.
“Confronting sexual violence requires honesty, and it’s only by shining a light on these issues that we can begin to provide clarity on something that touches every corner of society. And, most importantly, by bringing hard data to bear, we can make every trip safer for drivers and riders alike.
“Because we alone cannot meet all of the safety challenges inherent in our industry, we’re already working with law enforcement officials, road safety organizations, and more than 200 gender-based violence prevention experts—including the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN), the National Alliance to End Sexual Violence, and the National Network to End Domestic Violence—to innovate on new approaches that will raise the bar on safety in ridesharing.
“Because intent alone is not enough, we’ve tripled the size of our safety team since 2017, with more than 300 professionals now dedicated to safety for our core rides business.
“And because we have one of the best technology teams in the world focused on safety, we’ve also added new safety features like our In-App Emergency Button, more rigorous background checks that continuously look for new criminal offenses, and technology that allows us to check in with customers if we detect a potential crash or unexpected long stop during a trip.
“We’re constantly pushing to do more on safety. We’re rolling out new features that allow riders to verify their driver with a secure PIN code, send a text message directly to 911 operators, and report safety incidents to Uber before their trip is even over.
“In some countries, we’re testing a feature to give drivers and riders the option to securely record audio during their trip as a safety precaution. We’re also committed to sharing the names of drivers who have been banned from our platform for the most serious safety incidents with our ridesharing peers.
“Of course, this is more than an “Uber thing.” Safety should never be proprietary, and it’s our intention to make an impact well beyond our own company, encouraging others to be more transparent with their data and to share best practices that can make everyone safer.”