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Here’s what Uber is doing to solve its sexual assault problem after reporting more than 3,000 incidents last year

Here’s what Uber is doing to solve its sexual assault problem after reporting more than 3,000 incidents last year

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A driver uses an Uber Technologies car service app on a mobile device while driving in Washington, D.C.

Bloomberg | Getty Images

Uber revealed that more than 3,000 sexual assaults occurred during rides on its service in the U.S. in 2018. It shared these statistics in a comprehensive U.S. Safety Report on Thursday.

The ride-hailing company and peers, including Lyft, have been criticized over these personal safety issues for years. Uber has seen an uptick in lawsuits over sexual assaults that allegedly occurred between riders and drivers in recent years.

Thursday’s report also revealed that Uber received 235 reports of rape — the most serious category of sexual assault — during rides in 2018, an average of four reported incidents a week in the states. That was a worse rate than the 229 reports of rape that the company received in 2017.

Drivers and passengers using Uber’s ride-hailing service are both at risk. Riders accounted for 45% of accused parties across the 5 most serious sexual assault categories, Uber said in its report. (Some riders reportedly assaulted other riders.) However, 92% of the reported rapes were allegedly committed by drivers.

“Voluntarily publishing a report that discusses these difficult safety issues is not easy,” wrote Tony West, chief legal officer at Uber in the report.

He also outlined what Uber was doing to prevent further sexual abuse and assaults, including the following:

  • Employing more than 300 employees today “dedicated to safety” in Uber’s ride-hailing business.
  • Making driver background checks more rigorous, to “continuously look for new criminal offenses.”
  • Added technology that allows Uber to check in with customers if they detect an unexpected long stop during a trip.
  • Giving riders the ability to report safety incidents to Uber before their trip is even over.
  • Adding other new safety features including an “In-App Emergency Button,” and a way to text 911 operators directly from the Uber app.

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