Uber is expected to launch its operations in Metro Vancouver very soon, but new statistics about sexual assaults taking place in rides is adding to the baggage the company carries as it arrives.
The statistics were part of a safety report the ride-hailing company conducted on itself. The report noted that 9 people were murdered, 58 were killed in crashes, and 3,045 were sexually-assaulted (up from 2,936 in 2017).
Murder victims included drivers, passengers, and third parties. Sexual assaults affected both Uber riders and drivers at similar rates, but 92% of rape victims were riders.
According to the New York Times, all of these incidents accounted for about 0.0002% of Uber’s 1.3 billion rides, in the U.S., in 2018.
“The numbers are jarring and hard to digest”, said Tony West, Uber’s Chief Legal Officer.
Uber notes in the introduction of the report that, in 2018, 20,000 people were murdered in homicides in the U.S., 36,000 people were killed in car crashes, and nearly 44% of women have been a victim of a sexual violence in their lifetime.
That is a valid point, but it also somewhat hides the fact that Uber should get a piece of the blame-pie.
Like almost all start-ups, Uber was, and still is, focused on growth. (Hence, why it’s coming to Vancouver.) And to grow as quickly as possible, they cut corners. (“Move fast and break things”, as Facebook would say.)
“Many ride-hailing companies initially thrived by flouting regulations and allowing almost anyone with a car to become a driver without the screening and licenses required in the taxi industry”, a New York Times report said.
Uber says that its background-check process is “very rigorous”, with over a million prospective drivers failing the process. The company has also introduced several in-app safety features, such as an in-app emergency button.
Uber’s reputation is not particularly good at the moment, but the company does get some credit for self-reporting these findings.
Locally, Uber, as well as Lyft, have had their launches in Metro Vancouver delayed, but both companies have said that they’re still aiming to launch this month.
This article has been updated to clarify that the statistics are for rides in the U.S.
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