Uber Safety Report Says Sexual Assaults Down But Traffic Deaths Rise
Uber said in a safety report on Thursday that sexual assaults in its transportation vehicles have dropped significantly since its last report, but fatal car crashes have increased.
The company said 3,824 sexual assaults were reported on its US platform in 2019 and 2020, while 20 people were killed in assaults and 101 in accidents.
The report was a follow-up to Uber’s initial report, which it released in 2019. The company pledged to release reports every two years, but said the new review was slowed by a delay to the pandemic in the 2020 data from the National Highway Safety Administration. Uber uses the agency’s methodology and data standards to analyze vehicle fatalities.
Reported sexual assaults were down from 5,981 in 2017 and 2018, the period covered by Uber’s first report, although the company saw far fewer trips in 2020 due to the pandemic: 650 million versus 1.4 billion in 2019. Yet Uber said the rate of reported sexual assaults has dropped by 38%.
Deaths from assaults rose by nine in the previous period, as did fatal crashes, which killed 58 people in 2017 and 2018. Uber said the spike in fatal car crashes reflected an overall deadlier year on the roads in 2020, which is backed by NHTSA data.
Deaths rose that year in part because of excessive speed on less-travelled highways during the pandemic, making it the deadliest year since 2007, NHTSA said. Although most Uber-related vehicle deaths in both years occurred in 2019, the rate was higher in 2020.
The company said 99.9% of Uber rides are incident-free and only 0.0002% of all rides include one of the critical safety incidents mentioned in the report. Data does not include injuries and only counts rides, not food deliveries on UberEats.
Uber has been trying to reshape its image and publishing safety data has been seen as a key part of that transformation.
The company has added safety options in recent years, such as the ability for drivers to film rides and for drivers and passengers to record audio from them in the Uber app. Uber said more than 500,000 potential drivers failed to pass its screening process in 2019 and 2020, and more than 80,000 drivers were removed from the app following the Uber’s ongoing criminal record checks. ‘company.
“Secrecy doesn’t make anyone safer,” Uber chief legal officer Tony West said in a statement. “That’s why we’re calling on companies in the industry to step up and be honest with the public about their safety records.”
He added: “By confronting the problem and counting the reports consistently, we can work together to help end sexual violence.”
In recent months, driver advocacy organizations and members of Congress have pressured gig companies to improve the safety of their drivers, and one report estimated that at least 50 gig drivers had been killed on the job since 2017. Uber’s report on Thursday said 19 drivers had been killed. in 2019 and 2020 – 14 in accidents and five in assaults.
Uber works with insurance companies to help drivers with accidents and injuries, and directly compensates drivers in some states where required by law, said company spokesman Andrew Hasbun. The company also offers an Uber-specific hotline for sexual assault survivors, in partnership with the National Rape, Abuse & Incest Network, he said.
Uber said it couldn’t provide numbers on exposure to Covid-19 or deaths among Uber drivers, but it had allocated $50 million globally for safety supplies like masks and hand sanitizer, and gave drivers affected by Covid more than $40 million in aid.
Uber divides reported sexual assaults into five categories, including non-consensual kissing, rape and attempted rape. The largest number of reports were for “non-consensual touching of a sexual body part”.
In the five categories, the perpetrators and targets were roughly split between bikers and drivers. Drivers were charged with assault in 56% of cases and passengers in 43%. Drivers were victims in 39% of cases and passengers in 61%.
Indira Henard, a member of Uber’s safety advisory board and executive director of the DC Rape Crisis Center, said releasing sexual assault data could help dispel stigma around an underreported type of crime.
“By being transparent with its safety record, Uber aims to end the silence around gender-based violence,” Dr. Henard said in an interview.