By: Edward Mervison
Uber announced that over 3,000 passengers using its services were sexually assaulted last year. 464 people were raped in 2017 and 2018. 99.4% of them were riders. The question is, what will Uber do next? How will they improve the safety of their passengers?
Dan Ives, managing director of Wedbush Securities: “This is a major crisis situation that they’re going to have to deal with because the brand’s built on safety, and even though some could try to say it’s a small number, it’s still way too high — it’s higher than zero — and I think that shows a gap in their screening process.”
But it’s not that Uber hasn’t made attempts at implementing safety procedural measures. In the past two years, Uber has created in-app emergency buttons, a ride check feature that determines potential crashes, and a ride share feature that allows passengers to share their location. Obviously, it wasn’t enough.
So, this week, Uber will launch a new feature that gives passengers a four digit number that they can utilize to confirm that they are getting into the right car. Next year, Uber will launch a support hotline managed by RAINN, a sexual violence organization. It will also provide sexual misconduct education for all Uber drivers. Lyft will not do something similar, encouraged by this new shift in policy.
Some, however, are disappointed by the lack of reform and change. They do not believe that this is enough. It has been expressed that fingerprinting should be an additional feature, “because someone can easily fake a Social Security number,” said Dominique Penson, an attorney. She continued: “You can’t fake a fingerprint. And if somebody has been convicted of a crime anywhere in the United States, that will appear in a national database, and when you run that fingerprint, you’ll know.”
A U.S. House committee is in the process of looking at a legislation that could essentially reduce the number of sexual assaults. U.S. Representative Peter DeFazio, chairman of the House Transportation Committee, confirmed this. The committee has discussed the idea of fingerprint check, camera monitoring, and front license plates. This would automatically eliminate the issue of “fake drivers.”
Bryant Greening, an attorney and co-founder of LegalRideshare concludes: “There’s no more dangerous place to be than in a moving car with a stranger. You are really vulnerable without a clear path to escape. So this system, rideshare, needs to be made safe for everybody who is in that car.”