Uber Responds to Assault Reports
January 3, 2020
Earlier this month, Uber released its highly anticipated two-year long report detailing rider and driver safety in vehicles, and the results are shocking. According to the company, there were nearly 6,000 reported assaults in 2017 and 2018. Uber also released its preliminary numbers for the first half of this year, and estimates 100 rapes and 800 cases of unwanted touching of a sexual body part.
Uber is one of the most popular transportation and ridesharing-applications in the world; approximately 95 million people use the app every month. Forced into changing policy in light of the report’s findings, the company is now distancing itself from its former rule of forcing sexual assault victims exclusively into arbitration proceedings (and signing non-disclosure agreements, or NDAs), barring them from seeking justice in a public forum. They are also now scrambling to ensure customers that most rides end safely, but the numbers indicate otherwise.
Increasing Sexual and Physical Assaults
In order to improve both rider and driver safety Uber joined forces with RapidSOS, a system that alerts local police to the rider’s name and location when they hit the app’s emergency button. The company also promised that it would continue releasing safety reports to inform the public every two years. But criminologists noticed a concerning trend throughout Uber’s report: the number of assaults reported annually appears to be increasing. Reported incidents went up by 4% between 2017 and 2018, and there are now approximately 8 assaults each day.
One aspect of the Uber model that crime experts believe contributes to the high rate of violence and assault is that drivers use their own vehicles. Even if they use a rental, there is no physical partition between the driver and rider. Studies have shown that partitions effectively reduce the number of assaults that occur in taxicabs. Another potential issue is that drivers are classified as independent contractors, not as company employees. Previously collected data shows that people are less likely to commit a crime when they fear losing their job.
Uber has other plans on the horizon aimed towards improving rider and driver safety. The company announced that it will be rolling out the following safety initiatives in the near future:
- An opt-in feature requiring that drivers enter a four-digit PIN code in order to initiate the ride, and:
- Riders will be able to text 9-1-1 directly, sending their location and other pertinent information to emergency police personnel
Uber Safety Tips for Riders and Drivers
Although the company is taking steps to increase the safety of drivers and riders, people should still be cautious and observe certain safety tips that help limit hazards associated with the rideshare app. For riders, Uber recommends:
- Request your ride indoors, instead of waiting outside alone. Wait inside until the driver arrives,
- Always check the vehicle before getting inside. Make sure the make and model of the vehicle matches the information on the app, and confirm the vehicle’s license plate number. If the identity of the driver or the vehicle does not match the information on the app, do not get in the car,
- Request that the driver confirms your name. Drivers may also request that a rider confirms their name,
- Always wear your seatbelt and ride in the backseat whenever possible,
- Share your trip information with friends or loved ones. Select the “share trip status” feature within the app, and:
- Follow your intuition. If you sense that a situation is becoming urgent, use the in-app emergency feature or dial 9-1-1
Uber recommends that drivers try to avoid controversial conversation topics and always remain calm. If a driver feels unsafe or uncomfortable, he or she can end the ride at any time. In case of an emergency situation, drivers should immediately call 9-1-1.
Even though Uber is updating its policies in order to curb illegal and dangerous conduct, assaults are still happening. If you were in an Uber accident or were assaulted by an Uber driver, call our firm.
Philadelphia Personal Injury Lawyers at Galfand Berger, LLP Representing Injured Individuals Since 1947
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