Is Uber Dangerous?
Uber drivers and passengers have been the victims of sexual and physical assaults. Now, people are questioning the safety of rideshare services.
In recent years, the media has reported numerous stories of rideshare-related physical and sexual assaults. Drivers and riders have been victims of these crimes.
However, many people didn’t know the true extent of the problem until Uber released a company safety report in 2019. Lyft recently released their own report in November 2021. Now, drivers and riders are questioning the safety of rideshare apps such as Uber.
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How Dangerous Is Uber?
Following Uber’s report, many are questioning how dangerous it is to drive or ride with Uber.
The report analyzed data collected by the company throughout a two-year time frame. The data was focused on three main safety issues:
- Motor vehicle fatalities
- Fatal physical assaults
- Sexual assaults
Motor Vehicle Fatalities
The report showed motor vehicle fatalities were relatively rare. In the two years studied, 107 fatal accidents were reported out of more than two billion rides given. The data also shows the likelihood of an Uber-related fatal accident is frequently lower than the national average of motor vehicle fatalities.
However, part of this disparity may be due to the fact that Uber doesn’t hire drivers under the age of 21. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), teen drivers are responsible for a large portion of the nation’s motor vehicle fatalities.
Despite the lower risk, drivers and passengers should still be cautious when using rideshare services. Uber’s report found drivers and passengers are roughly 35% of the deceased victims. Others killed in Uber-related accidents include third-party drivers and passengers, as well as pedestrians and cyclists.
Fatal Physical Assaults
Similar to the motor vehicle fatality statistics, the number of fatal physical assaults reported to Uber are a small percentage of the total rides. However, many drivers and riders have been victims of serious non-fatal physical assaults that were not counted in this report.
Although Uber shared data about fatalities, the data the report didn’t share may be more telling for users. Drivers have been attacked during car thefts. Riders have been kidnapped and held at gunpoint. These assaults have left drivers and passengers seriously injured. But, they are unaccounted for in Uber’s assault statistics.
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Uber Sexual Assault Statistics
Many who read the report were shocked by how many people have been sexually assaulted in Uber rides. Over the course of the report’s two-year time frame, Uber users filed nearly 6,000 claims of sexual assault.
The media often reports incidents of drivers sexually assaulting passengers. But, Uber’s data shows riders are the accused party in approximately 45% of the reported cases. Thus, it can be just as dangerous to drive for Uber as it can be to ride as a passenger.
Victim advocates have also pointed out that Uber’s data only shows reported cases. This means the 6,000 reported cases may underestimate the total number of Uber-related sexual assaults.
This is due in large part to the fact that many victims choose to delay reporting their assault. Some never choose to disclose their trauma.
How Uber Mishandles Allegations
Apart from a large number of sexual assaults, Uber and Lyft have faced criticism for how they handled the allegations. Some victims have been ignored or their worries dismissed by the companies.
This has led to numerous lawsuits against Uber. Many of these lawsuits accuse the rideshare company of negligence in its handling of assaults.
Victims have sued Uber for financial compensation and justice through the legal system. However, many also file lawsuits to incite positive change within the company and prevent future assaults. Recently, Uber has targeted safety in its service improvements.
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Uber Examines Safety
Unlike Lyft’s response to assault, Uber has taken steps to help prevent future cases of assault. Since issuing its 2019 report, Uber has enacted several initiatives to protect drivers and riders:
- Uber now uses a third-party app to continuously screen drivers for new criminal charges.
- Uber installed several emergency safety features within the Uber app that drivers and riders can use. This includes an emergency button in the app that dials 911 when pressed.
- Uber has 24/7 support staffed by trained safety experts to help all users.
- Uber is working with the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN). The collaboration aims to help Uber enact safety measures and business practices that protect all users.
- Uber and Lyft have agreed to share criminal data on drivers to keep dangerous offenders off both rideshare apps.
Although these actions may prevent some future assaults, some critics believe Uber has more work to do before its users are safe.
Despite the company’s efforts, Uber riders and drivers still face the danger of assaults. Users should understand the risks involved with rideshare services. Uber’s report has shown drivers and passengers still need to take certain precautions when using the company’s services.
Bond, S. (2019, December 5). Uber Received Nearly 6,000 U.S. Sexual Assault Claims In Past 2 Years. NPR.
Kokalitcheva, K. (2018, July 13). Uber begins monitoring U.S. driver background checks continuously. Axios.
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). (N.D.) Teen Driving.
RAINN. (N.D.) Our Modules. Retrieved January 14, 2021.
Uber Technologies, Inc. (N.D.) Our approach to safety. Retrieved January 14, 2021.
Uber Technologies, Inc. (2019, December 5). 2017-2018 US Safety Report [PDF].