Uber records 38% drop in reported sexual assaults, cites pandemic

The vast majority of trips on Uber - more than 99.9 per cent - were completed without safety complaints. PHOTO: AFP

NEW YORK (BLOOMBERG) - Uber Technologies has said it received 3,824 reports of sexual assault and misconduct on its ride-hailing app in 2019 and 2020, a decline of 38 per cent since its first safety report published two-and-a-half years ago.

The decline could be related to the Covid-19 pandemic, which caused demand for Uber rides to plummet 80 per cent, the company said in its second safety report, released on Thursday (June 30).

Still, the vast majority of trips on Uber - more than 99.9 per cent - were completed without safety complaints.

The previous report, released in December 2019, covered the years 2017-2018.

"We know that each incident included in this report affects a real person," chief legal officer Tony West wrote in the report.

"Behind every data point is a personal experience, and sometimes pain and loss, that must be acknowledged. That's why we continue to invest in safety, building new features to help prevent incidents and challenging the entire industry to raise the safety bar," he said.

While Covid lockdowns kept people out of cars, violent crimes in the United States increased by the most in two decades, according to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.

As a result, Uber said it saw an uptick of 18 per cent in the rate of fatal physical assaults compared with the previous report.

Government data also showed that 2020 was the deadliest year on American roads overall since 2007 due to an increase in risky behaviours such as drunk driving, speeding and not wearing a seat belt, Uber said.

The company reported 101 people died across 91 fatal Uber-related crashes, or about 1 in 20 million trips.

Uber's motor vehicle fatality rate was still half the national average, it said.

To ensure the safety of riders, Uber conducts detailed background checks of drivers before and during their employment.

In 2019 and 2020, more than 500,000 prospective drivers did not make it through Uber's screening process. Some 80,000 drivers had been removed from the app in an on-going screening process, Uber said.

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