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The Hidden Dangers of Rideshare Apps: Protecting Survivors from Assault

Updated: Mar 9

In the bustling world of modern transportation, rideshare apps like Uber and Lyft have revolutionized the way we move from place to place. Yet, beneath the convenience lies a concerning reality: the prevalence of assaults during rideshare journeys. For survivors of abuse seeking independence and mobility, understanding these risks is crucial for safeguarding their well-being. Years ago I went to a treatment center in California and was provided a ride in a van to take me from the airport to the hospital. Alone in this vehicle with a man should have been a safe experience. As a survivor of abuse I was going to the treatment center to recover from my abusive past. Taking the opportunity of having me alone without any other passengers he came onto me sexually, but thankfully I was able to fend him off and get to the hospital scared but safe. I then reported his abusive behavior.

Fast forward to present day, thousands of individuals have faced the harrowing experience of sexual assault during rideshare rides each year. Shockingly, many of these incidents occur despite the supposed safety measures implemented by major rideshare companies. The statistics are sobering: Uber alone received 3,824 reports of sexual assault in 2019 and 2020, with more than half of the victims being passengers. The others are the drivers. Lyft's safety report paints a similarly troubling picture, with 1,807 reported sexual assaults during rides in 2019.

Behind these numbers lie real stories of trauma and pain. Those who have endured rideshare assaults have sought justice through legal avenues, holding companies like Uber and Lyft accountable for their lax driver screening policies. Despite both companies boasting a 99% safety rate for trips, the prevalence of assaults paints a starkly different reality.

Delving deeper into the statistics, it's revealed that approximately 36% of U.S. adults utilize ridesharing apps. However, alongside this convenience comes a disturbing trend: reports of sexual assault and even fatalities during rides. Uber reported 20 fatalities due to physical assault during rides in 2019-2020, while Lyft documented four fatal physical assaults during the same period. These figures underscore the urgent need for enhanced safety measures within the rideshare industry.

But are rideshare companies truly absolved of responsibility for these assaults? Both Uber and Lyft assert that they cannot be held liable due to their drivers being classified as independent contractors rather than employees. However, legal experts argue otherwise, citing the companies' knowledge of the issue and their failure to implement adequate safety protocols.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission's guidance on liability further complicates the matter. Employers are expected to address and mitigate harassing behavior, regardless of the employment status of the perpetrator. This raises questions about the accountability of rideshare companies in the face of assault allegations.

Despite mounting pressure, Uber and Lyft have acknowledged the problem and purportedly taken steps to enhance rider and driver safety. Changes to hiring and screening practices, as well as improved assault reporting procedures, have been implemented. However, critics argue that these measures fall short of creating a truly safe environment for all users.

For survivors of abuse, the decision to utilize rideshare apps can be fraught with anxiety and uncertainty. Understanding the risks and advocating for improved safety measures is essential for protecting vulnerable individuals. By shedding light on the hidden dangers of rideshare apps, we empower survivors to make informed choices about their transportation options and demand accountability from rideshare companies. How to Report Assault to Rideshare Apps Reporting rideshare assault is crucial for ensuring safety and seeking assistance promptly. Riders and drivers have several options to report incidents effectively:

  1. In-App Emergency Features: Utilize the in-app emergency reporting buttons during a ride for swift and discreet assistance. These features connect directly with security professionals (Lyft) or emergency services (Uber) to provide immediate help.

  2. Online Reporting: Contact the rideshare company through their online platform to report incidents and seek assistance.

  3. Contact National Sexual Assault Hotline: Call 1-800-656-4673 or use the online chat feature for additional support and resources.

  4. File a Police Report: It's important to file a report with local law enforcement to document the incident and initiate an investigation.

Navigating the reporting process can be challenging, but both Uber and Lyft offer support resources:

  • Uber: Access support through the dedicated 24-7 support team and app help menu. The "Safety Toolkit" section in the app contains essential safety information for emergencies.

  • Lyft: Report incidents of inappropriate behavior or sexual assault through the app or by phone. Lyft assures users that they will not face retaliation for filing a claim.

By utilizing these reporting avenues, individuals can contribute to a safer rideshare experience and access the necessary support in case of an assault. Read full article here Read Uber, Lyft and Ridershare lawsuits article here

While this summary provides a glimpse into the complexities of rideshare assaults, the full article offers a comprehensive exploration of the issue, including legal considerations and expert opinions. I encourage you to delve deeper into this important topic to better understand the challenges and opportunities for change within the rideshare industry. Together, we can work towards a safer and more inclusive transportation landscape for all. Rideshare Sexual Assault Help at Helping Survivors

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