A CNN investigation has found that at least 103 Uber drivers in the U.S. have been accused of sexually assaulting or secually abusing their passengers. The allegations date back to the past four years.
The results of the investigation have shown that the questionable drivers were either arrested, are wanted by police, or have been named in civil suits related to the incidents.
Shockingly, nearly 31 drivers have been convicted for crimes ranging from forcible touching and false imprisonment to rape, and at least a dozen more have criminal and civil cases that are pending, according to CNN analysis.
This is strictly coming from analysis conducted by CNN involving in-depth review of police reports, federal court records and county court databases for 20 major U.S. cities. There is no publicly available data for the number of sexual assaults by Uber drivers or for drivers of other rideshare companies.
Most of these cases involve the passengers being intoxicated or passing out in their Ubers. Some of these cases have even lead to opened investigations into other potential crimes,
A few of the cases have resulted in a class action lawsuit against Uber.
One woman is even suing Uber for representing its services as “safe.”
Uber launched in 2010 in San Francisco as “everyone’s private driver,” and is currently valued at $70 billion and operates in 630 cities worldwide. Uber provides an estimated 15 million rides a day.
It will be interesting to see how the company further responds to this CNN investigation.
According to CNN, last week the company posted a sexual assault prevention video on its website on “how to create a safer community.” Uber also announced plans to host 50 community forums nationwide for advocates, leaders, drivers and riders across to talk about the issue.
An Uber spokesperson said safety is the company’s top priority this year and cited recent protocol updates such as rerunning driver background checks on an annual basis moving forward. The company also told CNN it plans to roll out a dedicated “safety center” within the Uber app where riders can designate contacts they want to share trip details with while they ride and they will also have an emergency button allowing users to call 911 from inside the app.
Lyft, an Uber competitor that provides an estimated one million rides daily in the United States and Canada, is also dealing with some allegations of sexual assaults by its drivers. A similar CNN review using the same methodology found 18 cases of Lyft drivers accused in the past four years. Of those cases, four drivers have been convicted.
Keep in mind that it is quite common for Uber and Lyft drivers to work for both companies simultaneously. However, each company is required to perform its own background checks.
While using a rideshare service like Uber or Lyft to avoid a potential DUI seems like a safe, economical decision, these sexual assault reports raise some major red flags for passenger safety. If using your phone to get a ride in about 3-5 minutes sounds too good to be true, you could be correct as you are virtually relying upon a stranger to get you to your next destination safely. Our Florida Injury Lawyers at Whittel & Melton have compiled a few safety guidelines for you to follow if Uber or Lyft is your go to:
- Before getting in to the vehicle, make sure you identify your driver and car. Uber sends you your driver’s name, photo, vehicle make, model, and plate number once you have booked your trip. Always compare that information with your ride when it arrives. If something does not match up, do not get in.
- Never get into an Uber car that you didn’t order. If you are intoxicated, have someone you trust wait with you and check the the driver and car upon arrival.
- Share your ETA with a friend or someone you trust. Uber sends you a destination link once the driver is on their way. Share it with someone so they know where you are and where you are supposed to end up.
- Always go with your gut. If you are not 100% comfortable when your Uber driver arrives, don’t take the ride. The minor $5 cancellation fee is absolutely worth your safety.
- Know the accident coverage liability: If you are injured while in an Uber accident and the driver is at fault, be aware of who is responsible and the limits to Uber’s $1 million liability amount. Familiarize yourself with Uber’s Terms & Conditions you agreed to during registration.
- Rate your driver: Leave comments and feedback about your Uber experience. If you felt unsafe, share the information. Remember, these can be anonymous.