Uber US Sex Assault Data Unlikely to Quell Fears

Uber has released data stating its US service suffered nearly 6,000 cases of sexual assaults in 2017 and 2018 including 229 rapes.

The figures also show that while the number of attacks, among both passengers and drivers, rose in 2018, the rate of assaults dropped by 16% because of the increase in the number of journeys traveled. “The numbers are jarring and hard to digest,” Tony West, Uber’s chief legal officer, told the New York Times. “What it says is that Uber is a reflection of the society it serves.”

The data comes in the wake of the company losing its license to trade in London after the city’s transport authority, Transport for London (TfL), decreed it had yet to be convinced the service was adequately safe for passengers.

So, while it continues to operate under the appeal procedure, the company clearly wants to show it is responding to continuing criticism over passenger safety with London’s mayor, Sadiq Khan, pointing to the authority’s data claiming 14,000 Uber journeys involved fraudulent drivers.

However, the data Uber has released is only for the US and it has yet to report any data for the other 65 countries where it also operates. What we do know is that, as reported in the UK’s Guardian newspaper, more than 20 UK customers are suing the company over alleged sexual assault and, in October, a House of Commons committee called on both Uber and Lyft to improve their safety measures.

While many have welcomed Uber’s release of data, that data will only be seen as properly valid if it can be independently verified and this has yet to happen. It would require a huge cultural shift for the famously secretive organization to open its books to scrutiny as all other taxi service providers have to do. Until it does, the future for Uber being able to ply its trade in London, its most profitable European foothold, looks decidedly bleak.

— Paul Myles is a seasoned automotive journalist based in London. Follow him on Twitter @Paulmyles_


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