On December 5, 2019, American multinational ride-hailing giant, Uber, released data regarding sexual assaults recorded by its drivers and riders in its US Safety Report. The scope of the report covers assault cases between 2017 and 2018, with an average of 3.1 million trips taken in the United States per day.
According to its first-ever safety report, 2,936 sexual assault reports were filed in 2017 and the numbers increased to 3,045 in 2018. As many as 103 Uber drivers were found to have sexually assaulted or abused their riders from 2014–2018.
Uber states that it is working towards making the ride-hailing platform a safe one. “That’s why, last fall, we partnered with the National Sexual Violence Resource Center and the Urban Institute to create this much-needed classification system – and we made it open source so that other companies can use it to improve safety for their own customers,” said Tony West, chief legal officer.
The report also outlines the safety procedures that Uber has undertaken in the past years. “In 2017, Uber kicked off a comprehensive effort across the company to focus on safety. We developed new technology, strengthened background screenings for drivers, launched new safety features, overhauled how we train our support staff, updated our policies, and tripled the size of our safety team,” the report states.
Such safety procedures include the following:
- Driver background checks and screenings
Candidates with felony charges in the past seven years are automatically disqualified. It has been reported that more than a million drivers did not make the cut as Uber drivers in 2017 and 2018 due to them failing its background checks using the American annual Motor Vehicle Record review.
Uber also prides itself on being the first ride-sharing platform to continuously screen its drivers through a number of data sources. It has eliminated 40,000 drivers using the continuous screening methods.
- Community guidelines
Uber has developed its community guidelines to present its users with better expectations of how the app works. The main principles of the guidelines include treating everyone with respect, making sure all parties are safe and abiding by the law. Drivers with continuously low ratings will face the possibility of losing access to Uber.
- New safety technology
New features such as in-app emergency button, ride check, share my trip / follow my ride, speeding alerts, phone number and address anonymization, real-time ID check and driving hours tools are some of the additions to Uber’s reinforcement of its safety measures.
According to the report, Uber will be investing in more safety feature implementations such as deactivation sharing, which allows for other drivers to be notified of banned drivers.