Uber reports more than 3,000 sexual assaults on 2018 rides

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SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — More than 3,000 sexual assaults were reported during U.S. Uber rides in 2018, the company said in a long-awaited safety report.

That figure includes 229 rapes across the company’s 1.3 billion rides. Uber noted that drivers and riders were both attacked, and that some assaults occurred between riders.

In 2017, the company said 2,936 sexual assaults were reported. Uber bases its numbers on reports from riders and drivers — meaning the actual numbers could be much higher. Sexual assaults commonly go unreported.

“I suspect many people will be surprised at how rare these incidents are; others will understandably think they’re still too common,” Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi tweeted about the report. “Some people will appreciate how much we’ve done on safety; others will say we have more work to do. They will all be right.”

Uber’s share price dropped more than 1% in after-hours trading.

Uber and competitor Lyft have faced a backlash for not doing enough to protect the safety of its riders and drivers. Dozens of women are suing Lyft, claiming the company should have done more to protect them from driver assaults. A Connecticut woman sued Uber last month, claiming she was sexually assaulted by her driver.

Uber’s safety report is the first of its kind, the company said.

“Keeping this information in the dark doesn’t make anyone safer,” Uber said in a statement announcing the report. It plans to release its safety report every two years going forward.

Lyft said last year it would also release a safety report. A company spokeswoman confirmed Thursday that it “remained committed” to releasing a report, but did not say when.

Mike Bomberger, a lawyer representing more than 100 victims of sexual assault in lawsuits against Uber and Lyft, said he applauds Uber for releasing the numbers. “One of the problems with both of these companies is that they have hidden and have tried to conceal the number of sexual assaults that occur in their vehicles,” he said.

Bomberger said he believes 80% to 90% of the assaults in the Uber report could have been prevented by measures such as cameras in the cars recording rides and the companies reporting each assault it learns of to the police.

The Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network said it appreciated Uber’s transparency.

“This is an issue that affects every institution in America,” RAINN press secretary Emily Robinson said in a statement. She added that organizations in every industry, including education, should “make a similar effort to track and analyze sexual misconduct within their communities.”

There were 107 deaths from crashes in 2017 and 2018, from 97 crashes reported to Uber. Uber says this represents about half of the national rate for fatal crashes.

Sexual assault in the report is defined broadly into categories including non-consensual kissing of a non-sexual body part, attempted non-consensual sexual penetration, non-consensual touching of a sexual body part, non consensual kissing of a sexual body part and non-consensual sexual penetration.

The company also said Uber rides were involved nine murders during 2018.

Uber noted that the vast majority — 99.9% — of rides did not have any reported safety issues.

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