Uber’s first-ever safety report reveals 3,045 sexual assaults, 9 homicides on 1.3B U.S. rides in 2018

Uber’s Seattle office. (GeekWire Photo / Taylor Soper)

Uber released its first-ever safety report, chronicling all reported issues of sexual assault, homicide and fatal accidents in the U.S. in 2017 and 2018. Uber says compiling these incidents is integral to making the platform safer for riders and drivers alike, and the ride-hailing giant announced several new safety initiatives alongside the new report.

What the data says: Uber looked at a combined 2.3 billion U.S. rides over the two-year period — 1 billion in 2017 and 1.3 billion in 2018. That’s an average of 3.1 million trips per day. The company found that 99.9 percent of rides end without incident. Uber says 0.0003 percent of trips ended in the kind of “critical safety incident” tracked in the new report.

Uber pushed back on media coverage of sexual assaults that “almost entirely portrayed drivers as the alleged offenders.” The report found that drivers represent a majority of accused parties in sexual assaults at 54 percent. Riders make up 45 percent of accused parties. The company notes that this ratio differs from media reports, which mention drivers as the culprits 92 percent of the time, according to an analysis by Uber.

Here’s a breakdown of the incidents tracked in the report:

  • Nine “fatal physical assaults” were reported in 2018, down from 10 in 2017. A homicide happened on one in every 122 million trips over the two-year period.

    (Uber Chart)

  • Uber reported 3,045 sexual assaults in 2018, up from 2,906 incidents the year before. Though the raw number of incidents rose slightly, the frequency of assaults declined because of an increase of 300 million U.S. rides between 2017 and 2018. Over the two-year period of the study, a sexual assault was reported on one in every 5 million trips.

    (Uber Chart)

  • The company reported 58 Uber-related fatal crashes in 2018 and 49 in 2017. During the two-year period, a fatal crash occurred on one in every 20 million trips. The company noted the rate of vehicle fatalities by miles traveled is less than half the rate of the U.S. as a whole.

    (Uber Charts)

Why Uber is doing this: The report represents the latest in a series of actions Uber is taking to increase safety for riders and drivers alike. It also comes against the backdrop of the company’s quest to regain public trust under CEO Dara Khosrowshahi, following a series of scandals under previous leadership.

Uber believes the data will help it develop best practices to prevent future safety incidents. The company also says it owes it to both drivers and riders to disclose these incidents so they know how safe a ride will be when they decide to pull up the Uber app. From the report:

We know most companies would not share publicly much of the information we have included here. But even though the decision to do so was hard, we have chosen to produce this report because we believe that for too long, companies have not discussed these issues publicly, particularly those relating to sexual violence. And simply put, we don’t believe corporate secrecy will make anyone safer.

What’s next: Uber also announced several new initiatives to enhance safety for riders and drivers. The company is working on a way to share the names of drivers it has deactivated from the platform with other ride-hailing companies to make sure they are aware of past incidents. Uber pledged to roll out new features for riders to verify drivers with a secure PIN code, send a text message directly to 911 operators and report safety incidents to Uber during an on-going trip.

Uber is partnering with RAINN, the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization on a pair of new initiatives scheduled to debut next year. Uber plans to offer a dedicated hotline for survivors of sexual assault to provide support and specialized services. Sexual assault and misconduct training will be mandatory for all U.S. drivers.

Uber says it will continue to produce safety reports every two years. Uber stock is down slightly in pre-marketing trading Friday.

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