For the first time, rideshare giant Uber has released a comprehensive study of passenger safety. While rideshare services offer many benefits to the public, there are safety concerns that need to be discussed in depth.
Uber Safety Concerns (Car Accidents, Physical/Sexual Assault)
There are various types of safety concerns when getting into an Uber vehicle.
Car accidents are a real possibility. Uber drivers are just like anyone else. They are regular people using their own vehicles to take people from place to place. While they do have to get their vehicles inspected periodically, they are not required to undergo any specific type of driver training. In 2018, more than 36,000 people lost their lives in car crashes in the US.
There is also the real possibility that sexual or physical assault will occur inside the Uber vehicle. There have been many stories over the years of passengers being assaulted by their Uber drivers. Some are highly publicized, and passengers have even been killed.
Uber’s First Safety Report: Scope & Significance
For the first time, Uber has released a safety report specific to its operations. In 2017, Uber pledged that it would release this report after news investigations revealed that many Uber drivers in the US had been accused of sexually assaulting passengers over the years. Until now, Uber had not been very transparent with this data.
Data released by Uber reveals that the company received 5,981 reports of sexual assault in 2017 and 2018. Out of those cases, 464 were rapes. The company says that there were 19 deaths caused by physical assault.
The report shows that 92% of rape victims were riders, and 7% were drivers. Women and female-identifying individuals made up 89% of rape victims.
New Safety Features
Over the last two years, Uber has instituted several features designed to increase passenger safety.
- In-app emergency button. This connects riders directly with 911 with one press of a button.
- RideCheck. This can detect rare events such as unexpected long stops on a trip and possible vehicle crashes.
- Share My Trip/Follow My Ride. This gives passengers and drivers the ability to share a trip with designated loved ones who can follow their trip in real-time.
- Speeding alerts. Drivers can receive notifications about posted speed limits.
- Phone and address anonymization. Rides and drivers will no longer see each other’s phone numbers.
- Real-time ID check. Drivers are prompted to take live photos of themselves in the Uber app before they can accept rides. This tool uses facial comparison technology to math to the driver’s account photo.
- Driving-hours. Drivers must go offline for six consecutive hours after 12 hours of driving time.
Rideshare Safety Best Practices
A few tips for staying safe during your Uber ride include:
- Stay indoors while waiting for your ride. Avoid unnecessary time outside alone with your phone in your hand.
- Tell someone you are taking an Uber. Let someone know you are taking an Uber and when you expect to arrive at your destination.
- Pay attention to the vehicle. Check the make and model of the car that pulls up and compare it to the information listed in the Uber app. Look at the driver’s name and photo and make sure the driver who arrives matches.
- Look for the beacon. Uber is rolling out glowing signs that will glow in a color the passenger selects.