Uber report details thousands of sexual assault claims on platform

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(The Hill) — Uber received 3,824 sexual assault reports from its U.S. rides in 2019-20, a decline of 38 percent from the previous two years, according to a safety report the company released Thursday.

The company said the decline could be in part related to the impacts of the pandemic, citing a drop from 2.3 billion rides in 2017-18 to 2.1 billion rides in 2019-20, but also hailed its recent safety investments and strengthened background check requirements.

“We’re constantly innovating and investing in the safety of our platform,” the company said in the report. “We’ve prioritized robust screening processes and technology, built new safety features and invested in providing riders and drivers with support in times of need.”

Uber said riders were the accused party in 43 percent of sexual assault reports in 2019-20, which it noted was on par with previous years.

The report further broke down five categories of sexual assault, saying a majority of the reports involved non-consensual touching of a sexual body part. 

Instances of each of the five offense types, which range from non-consensual kissing of a non-sexual body part to non-consensual sexual penetration, all declined from 2017-18.

But even with dampening demand for Uber rides during the pandemic, the company reported 141 instances of non-consensual sexual penetration, or rape, in 2020. Uber said rape was reported for roughly 1 in every 5 million Uber rides.

“Each reported incident represents a harrowing lived experience for the survivor,” the company said. “Even one report is one report too many.” 

Meanwhile, the number of motor vehicle fatalities during U.S. Uber rides increased in its most recent report. Uber reported 0.62 fatalities for every 100 million miles driven in 2019-20, about a 7 percent increase from its previous report but only about half the national average.

The company attributed the rise to “drastic changes” in the driving environment, noting a simultaneous increase in driving fatalities nationwide.

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration attributed the nationwide jump in driving fatalities in large part to alcohol impairment, people not wearing seatbelts and speeding. The agency also detailed changes in driving patterns when people remained home during the pandemic.

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