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Uber received more than 3,000 reports of sexual assault in the U.S. in 2018

Uber received reports of more than 3,000 sexual assaults that are alleged to have taken place during trips made in the U.S. in 2018, according to the company’s own data.

The ridesharing service’s first-ever safety report, published on Thursday, said the 3,045 reported assaults occurred among 1.3 billion Uber rides taken during last year.

While it’s impossible to know the true figure due to the reluctance of some victims to file a report, the San Francisco-based company said its collected data marked a 16% drop in assaults on a year earlier. It added that 99.9% of the 2.3 billion U.S. Uber trips occurring throughout 2017 and 2018 took place without any reported safety issues.

Breaking down the figures, Uber said that 0.1% of these trips had a so-called “support request” for a safety-related concern (the majority of them linked to less-severe safety issues such as complaints of harsh braking or a verbal argument), while 0.0003% of trips had a report of a critical safety incident such as sexual assault.

The 84-page report noted that while the common perception is that drivers are the primary offenders in such cases, “our data shows that drivers report assaults at roughly the same rate as riders across the five most serious categories of sexual assault.” Some of the reports included assaults occurring between riders, too.

CEO response

Responding to the contents of the report, Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi wrote on Twitter: “I suspect many people will be surprised at how rare these incidents are; others will understandably think they’re still too common. Some people will appreciate how much we’ve done on safety; others will say we have more work to do. They will all be right.”

The data also revealed that nine Uber riders were murdered in 2018, while 58 were killed in car accidents.

Uber said the aim of its report is to “share data about reports of serious safety incidents, and to derive insights that help us track our progress, be more accountable, and strengthen safety on our platform and across the industry.”

Safety measures

The report comes as the company comes under increasing scrutiny over the measures it has in place to protect its riders. In London, for example, Uber recently lost its operating license after the company itself revealed that some drivers had been using another person’s credentials to work for the service. Uber is being allowed to continue operating in London while it appeals the decision.

In recent years, Uber has ramped up efforts to improve the safety of its ridesharing service, adding features such as a panic button to its app, as well as the ability to share trip details with friends and family. It’s also planning to add an audio recording feature to the app to give riders the option of recording their trip, something the company believes will lead to safer interaction during a ride.

Lyft, Uber’s main competitor in the U.S., is also dealing with similar safety issues, with 14 women recently suing the company over alleged sexual assault by its drivers.

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