For years, the rideshare company Lyft has faced mounting reports of sexual assault. Passengers and Lyft drivers have been assaulted during rides. Many of these survivors have filed lawsuits against Lyft. These lawsuits claim the company’s negligence led to their attack.
Despite these lawsuits, Lyft has been slow to respond. For example, Lyft released its Community Safety Report two years after Uber published assault statistics. Lyft has also failed to respond appropriately to assault allegations. In some cases, Lyft has publicly antagonized victims seeking compensation.
Recently the company added in-app features intended to make rides safer. However, in real emergency situations, these features have failed to protect users.
Lyft Driver Shot In Chicago
In the early morning of December 19, 2021, an anonymous Lyft driver was caught up in a drive-by shooting.
The driver, who chose to remain unnamed, picked up two passengers in the Chicago neighborhood of Woodlawn. Shortly thereafter, an SUV pulled alongside the Lyft driver’s vehicle and opened fire.
“The dash cam footage is Exhibit A on how ride-share companies fail their drivers. Lyft promised that there were systems in place to protect drivers from violent attacks, but when push came to shove, our client was ducking bullets and taking fists to the face.”
Footage captured by the driver’s dashcam shows the back window of his vehicle shattering. The driver attempted to lose the assailant, spurred on by his passengers. At the same time, he opened the Lyft app to notify the company’s emergency team. Although the app connected him with a security agent, no help arrived.
ADT & Lyft Panic Button
In November 2020, Lyft added a panic button to their ride-hailing app. In partnership with ADT, a private security company, the Emergency Help feature was described as a way for drivers and riders to get rapid assistance. A press release explained the Lyft panic button connects users with an ADT agent who “will alert authorities so they can arrive at the user’s live location.”
Lyft lists the panic button as one of its primary app features. Drivers and riders are encouraged to use it when feeling unsafe. But, when the panic button fails, users are left even more vulnerable to physical assault and sexual violence.
The Chicago driver was eventually able to lose the pursuing SUV and drop off his passengers. However, once he arrived, a third-party individual opened the door and physically assaulted the driver multiple times. The driver fled the scene, contacted police and drove himself to the emergency room.
At no point did Lyft provide emergency assistance, despite how the company advertises its safety features. The driver later contacted a rideshare assault lawyer. He intends to file a lawsuit against Lyft seeking compensation to pay for medical bills, lost wages and pain and suffering.
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Is It Safe To Be A Lyft Driver?
Gig workers will always face a certain degree of risk. Whether working in the rideshare or food delivery industry, independent contractors work in vulnerable situations with few safety features. Unlike taxi drivers, rideshare drivers also have fewer rights as contract workers.
Additionally, Lyft and Uber have policies that create an unsafe environment for workers. Drivers are incentivized with bonuses to complete as many rides as possible. Consequently, they may feel pressured to finish a ride, even when they feel unsafe.
If you do decide to become a rideshare driver, there are steps you can take to protect yourself. A victim is never responsible for their assault, but a few key habits can increase your safety.
Safety Tips For Lyft Drivers
The following precautions can help improve Lyft driver safety:
- Confirm your passenger’s identity before picking them up. The Lyft app provides passenger names and pictures. Make sure it is the right person before letting them into your car.
- Do not stop for unscheduled pickups. A passenger asking you to make a detour could be leading you into a vulnerable situation. Follow the pre-planned route and stick to well-traveled streets.
- Keep your doors locked when not moving. An idling vehicle at stoplights could be targeted by carjackers. Locking your doors is a simple but effective deterrent.
- Do not get out of the vehicle. When dropping off a passenger, never leave your vehicle unattended.
- If a situation feels dangerous, leave. One passenger’s fare or a bonus is not worth risking your life. If you do not feel comfortable making a pick-up, cancel the ride.
- Call 911. While Lyft and Uber offer in-app safety features, they are not always reliable. In case of emergencies, contact the police directly to report a sexual assault or attack.
Camarillo, C. (2022, January 4). Lyft needs to do more to protect its drivers, lawyer says after releasing videos showing driver, two passengers ducking from gunfire. Chicago Sun Times.
Chappell, K. (2022, January 4). Lyft Driver Caught in Drive-By Shooting, Says App Didn’t Provide Aid as Promised. NBC Chicago.
Lyft. (2020, November 18). Lyft Launches Emergency Help, Supported by ADT, to Riders and Drivers Nationwide [Press Release]. Retrieved February 22, 2022.
Lyft. (N.D.) Safety. Retrieved February 22, 2022.
Terry, J. (2022, January 4). Attorney Says Lyft Failed To Help Rideshare Driver Whose Car Was Fired Upon, And Who Was Then Beaten At His Passengers’ Destination. CBS Chicago.