Yesterday, the popular app-based rideshare platform Uber released a first-of-its-kind report on public safety. The report detailed the most severe safety incidents (sexual assault, motor vehicle fatalities and fatal physical assaults) that are reported in connection with using the Uber app. Their goal is to get more companies to do the same, and help raise these issues higher in the corporate consciousness.
We collaborated with our partners at RALIANCE and NSVRC to create the taxonomy on which this report was based. The report, the first of its kind for ridesharing, covers 2017 and 2018, a timeframe in which the Uber app connected more than 2 billion trips—more than 3 million rides a day, or about 46 rides per second.
For two years, CALCASA, along with a number of national organizations such as NO MORE, Women of Color Network, Inc., Casa de Esperanza, AVP, have worked closely with Uber to support their commitment to safety and sexual assault prevention, and wanted to highlight a number of Uber’s safety improvements and actions to-date and planned, including:
Adding an In-App Emergency Button and investing in new technology, RideSense, that allows Uber to check in with drivers and riders if a long unexpected stop is detected during a trip.
- Enhancing background checks to continuously look for new criminal offenses.
- Finding a way to share the names of drivers who have been banned from the platform with other ridesharing companies.
- Partnering with RAINN and other anti-sexual violence organizations to expand sexual misconduct and assault education to all US drivers.
- Rolling out new features that will 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.
Uber’s report on public safety sets a new bar on corporate responsibility that should serve as a model for other corporations in tech, transportation, and beyond. We have never seen a company disclose this level of information proactively before, and that in itself is a big step forward toward creating a better society free from sexual violence. We also know that sexual violence is NOT just an Uber problem – it is a problem that is taking place in every form of industry, and companies are just not telling us about it. Uber is changing that.
Importantly, while the media coverage of the issue of sexual assault related to Uber has almost entirely portrayed drivers as the alleged perpetrators, Uber’s data shows that drivers report assaults at roughly the same rate as riders across the five most serious categories of sexual assault. This data provides a really good opportunity to talk about how sexual violence is a far-reaching, societal problem, and often challenges the assumptions we have about who is, and isn’t, a victim of sexual assault.
It is crucial to note that while these numbers are already upsetting, we expect that data on violence occurrences will increase in the future, which is actually a good thing. This means that victims have more confidence that the company will take the incident seriously and do something about it – and a jump in reporting is one of the first indicators of accountability. We would love to see more companies do what Uber is leading on: bringing sexual violence into the light, counting it consistently, and sharing the data found with the public. This is the only way we can have an honest conversation about this problem, share best practices for prevention, and make travel safer for everyone.
On behalf of CALCASA, we commend Uber for taking this step, look forward to seeing other industry leaders follow suit, and remain committed to continuing the fight against sexual violence wherever it may occur.