Uber reports more than 3000 sexual assaults on 2018 rides

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				REUTERS

Enlarge Image REUTERS

Uber has a unit devoted to handling the most sensitive safety reports, but a September Washington Post investigation found that investigators are are instructed to keep the company's interests foremost, including through restrictions on their ability to report apparent felonies to police and a ban at the time on sharing information with competitor Lyft about possibly unsafe drivers.

In 2017, the company counted 2,936 reported sexual assaults during 1 billion US trips. A CT woman sued Uber last month, claiming she was sexually assaulted by her driver.

The report comes as Uber is under pressure from regulators in many cities, including London which recently rescinded the company's license to carry passengers over a "pattern of failures" on safety and security. Uber noted that drivers and riders were both attacked, and that some assaults occurred between riders.

More than 20 workers from the division, known as the Special Investigations Unit, said it is designed primarily to shelter the company from legal responsibility and quietly resolve serious allegations to avoid press or regulatory scrutiny. "What it says is that Uber is a reflection of the society it serves".

The report also examined other safety categories, including violent crimes such as physical assaults and motor vehicle deaths.

The report from Uber focused exclusively on rides in the United States and not the 65 other countries where Uber operates, including India, where a driver was sued in 2017 for allegedly raping a passenger. It plans to release its safety report every two years going forward. A company spokeswoman confirmed Thursday that it "remained committed" to releasing a report, but did not say when.

Bomberger said he believes 80% to 90% of the assaults in the Uber report could have been prevented by measures such as cameras in the cars recording rides and the companies r eporting every assault they learn of to the police. It has tripled the size of its safety team to 300 employees since 2017, according to the New York Times, and is set to launch a hotline in partnership with the not-for-profit organization Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (Rainn).

"This is an issue that affects every institution in America, and understanding the problem is an important step in the effort to solve it", she said.

Uber's report, which looked at the time period of 2017 and 2018, examined data during a time period for which it said an average of more than 3.1 million trips took place each day. The company said the figure represents about half of the national rate for fatal crashes.

The other assaults fell into categories such as non-consensual kissing or touching.

The company also said Uber rides were involved in 58 traffic fatalities.

Uber noted that the vast majority - 99.9% - of its rides had no reported safety issues.

Along with Uber, Lyft has pledged to release a transparency report of its own.

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