Thousands of sexual assaults involving Uber rides happen each year in the U.S., the ride-hail company said in a long-awaited report on violence and safety: An average of eight per day. Drivers have reported sexual violence to Uber at the same rates as riders. The company also said that nine people were murdered and 58 were killed last year in crashes related to the transportation app.
The number of sexual assaults reported to Uber in 2018 rose by 4 percent from a year earlier, the company said. That number has only increased, but that also due to the accumulating factor of an increase in rides.
“Each of those incidents represents an individual who has undergone a horrific trauma,” Tony West, Uber's top lawyer, told NBC Nightly News. “But I'm not surprised by those numbers. And I'm not surprised because sexual violence is just much more pervasive in society than I think most people realize.”
Including the data makes the context harder to explain. Lyft, the other nationwide ride-hailing service, has not given out data but a spokesperson from the company said they are in the works of that. Data on assaults and crashes related to taxicabs is only occasionally collected by localities, but there's no nationwide data on taxi incidents according to the Times.
Still, one criminologist said that, unlike West, he was surprised by the numbers contained in the Uber safety report, and not in a good way. “It's highly alarming,” says John Roman, a senior fellow at NORC at the University of Chicago, a social science research organization.
The data that describes violence that is not limited to one or two companies, still lacks the importance of why law enforcement is hardly encouraged for these crimes. Uber noted in its report that police were involved in just 37 percent of the rape incidents reported through its app; that likely makes Uber's reported numbers look artificially high when compared with national crime statistics. According to the Times, “Uber worked with advocacy groups to create a “taxonomy of sexual assault”: Five categories ranging from nonconsensual kissing of a nonsexual body part to nonconsensual penetration, for the report.” 27,000 incidents occurred in 2018, according to the Rape, Abuse, & Incest National Network, fewer than 20 percent of the total rape incidents reported to the FBI.
“We all think being victimized by a stranger is just the price of just living in America,” says Roman. “But I think people don't understand how rare stranger homicides and stranger rapes are. To see all these Uber-related rapes and murders—that's the thing that makes me really alarmed here.”
If you are a victim of sexual assault involving rideshare drives, please contact your local criminal defense attorney or us at Martens Law Firm at (661) 466-2142