The first Uber safety report outlines extent of sexual assaults and murders

Millions of people around the world use Uber every single day. In its early history they took the stance that their drivers are independent contractors and not directly employed by Uber, meaning that they weren’t directly responsible for what happens to their drivers or riders. That has changed over the last several years, highlighted by the release of the first ever Uber safety report.

The company have been notoriously hesitant to release data regarding their rides, but will start releasing safety reports for its various regions, starting with the US. This first Uber safety report discloses 3,045 sexual assaults, 9 murders, and 58 deaths due to accidents in the US in 2018.

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According to Uber, users took 3.1 million trips a day in the US in 2018 and 1.3 billion trips in total during the year. Of the 3,045 reported sexual assault cases in 2018, Uber says 235 were rapes and the remainder were varying levels of assault. A vast majority involved unwanted kissing or groping, Uber says, and it broke down such assaults into 21 categories. The report further notes that sexual assaults were equally prevalent against drivers and riders.

“The numbers are jarring and hard to digest,” Tony West, Uber’s Chief Legal Officer said. “What it says is that Uber is a reflection of the society it serves.” Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshani also released a statement publicly on Twitter saying he “suspects many people will be surprised at how rare these incidents are; others will understandably think they’re still too common.” He goes on to say, “They will all be right.”

The Uber safety report, which is 84 pages in length, will be studied by cities around the world. Uber is facing pressure in various markets (and having lost their London licence completely), with safety being chief among the concerns of various parties. That being said, at least at first reading, their numbers in the report doesn’t seem to indicate an Uber specific problem, rather reflecting the world that they are operating in.

Uber says it has removed more than 40,000 drivers from the platform since last year using improved automated screening technology to check criminal histories and past driving records. They have added more security features as well, like selfie check-ins for drivers to verify identities before they start picking up passengers, adding buttons for reporting when a ride might be suspiciously veering off route, and options for immediately alerting authorities in the event of an emergency.