Uber said in a safety report Thursday that sexual assaults in its passenger cars have dropped dramatically since its last report, but fatal car accidents have increased.
The company said that 3,824 cases of sexual assault were reported on its US platform in 2019 and 2020, while 20 people were killed in assaults and 101 died in accidents.
The report was a sequel to Uber’s initial report, which it released in 2019. The company has committed to releasing reports every two years, but said the new review has been slowed by pandemic-related delays in its 2020 data from National Highway Safety Administration. Uber uses the agency’s methodology and data standards to analyze vehicle deaths.
Reported sexual assaults are down from 5,981 in 2017 and 2018, the period covered by Uber’s first report, even though the company logged significantly fewer trips in 2020 due to the pandemic: 650 million compared to 1.4 billion in 2019. However Uber said the rate of trips decreased reported sexual assaults by 38 percent.
The number of assault deaths is up from nine in the previous period, as well as fatal crashes, which killed 58 people in 2017 and 2018. Uber said the rise in fatal car crashes reflected a deadlier year on the roads in 2020, which is Backed by data from NHTSA.
The NHTSA said deaths that year increased in part due to speeding on less crowded highways during the pandemic, making it the deadliest year since 2007. Although the most Uber-related vehicle deaths in the two years occurred in 2019, the rate was higher in year 2020.
The company said 99.9 percent of Uber rides are without incident, and only 0.0002 percent of all rides involve one of the serious safety incidents mentioned in the report. The data doesn’t just include injuries and statistics for trips, and it doesn’t include food deliveries on UberEats.
Uber has tried to reshape its image, and the release of safety statements was seen as a key component of that change.
The company has added safety options in recent years, such as the ability for drivers to film rides and for both drivers and passengers to record audio from them in the Uber app. Uber said that more than 500,000 potential drivers failed the screening process in 2019 and 2020, and that more than 80,000 drivers were removed from the app as a result of the company’s ongoing criminal records check.
“Confidentiality does not make anyone safer,” said Tony West, Uber’s chief legal officer, in a statement. “That’s why we’re calling on companies across the industry to come forward and also be honest with the public about their safety records.”
“By confronting the problem and constantly counting reports, we can work together to help end sexual violence,” he added.
In recent months, driver advocacy organizations and members of Congress have lobbied temporary services companies to improve the safety of their drivers, with one report estimating at least 50 drivers have died on the job since 2017. An Uber report on Thursday said 19 drivers died in 2019 and 2020 – 14 accidents. and five in assaults.
Andrew Haspon, a spokesman for the company, said Uber is working with insurance companies to help drivers with accidents and injuries, and directly compensates drivers in some states where laws require it. The company also offers an Uber hotline for survivors of sexual assault, he said, in partnership with the National Network of Rape, Abuse and Incest.
Uber said it couldn’t provide figures about exposure to Covid-19 or deaths among Uber drivers, but it has committed $50 million globally for safety supplies such as masks and hand sanitizer, and has given Covid-affected drivers more than $40 million in aid.
Uber divided sexual assault reports into five categories, including non-consensual kissing, rape and attempted rape. The largest number of reports was “non-sensory touching of a sexual body part”.
Across the five categories, the alleged culprits and targets were roughly divided between riders and drivers. Drivers were charged with assault in 56 percent of the cases and 43 percent of passengers. Drivers were the victims at 39 percent and riders at 61 percent.
Indira Hannard, a member of Uber’s safety advisory board and executive director of the DC Rape Crisis Center, said publishing data on sexual assaults can help dispel the stigma around the type of crime that goes unreported.
“By being transparent with their safety record, Uber aims to stop the silence around gender-based violence,” Dr. Henard said in an interview.