While ride-sharing services remain one of the most popular ways to get around in large cities, the public is getting one of its first-ever looks at the prevalence of sexual assaults within the industry — and it isn’t pretty.
CNN’s Sara Ashley O’Brien reported that “ride-hail company Lyft released its first safety report, disclosing that it received 4,158 reports of sexual assault on its platform in 2017, 2018 and 2019.”
According to O’Brien, “the disclosure comes more than three years after Lyft and its rival Uber first pledged to release safety reports disclosing incidents of sexual assault and abuse on their platforms after a CNN investigation.”
Of the 4,000-plus sexual assaults the company had documented over the course of its three-year review, Lyft said that 360 of those attacks included reports of rape. The company also revealed that 10 deaths occurred from physical assaults over that period.
“In May 2018, after CNN’s investigation into sexual assault and abuse incidents by ride-hail drivers, Uber and Lyft both committed to releasing safety transparency reports that would disclose internal data on the most severe incidents on their platforms,” O’Brien said. “By the end of 2019, Uber put out its first report, which revealed it had received 5,981 reports of sexual assault involving passengers and drivers in the two years prior, including 464 reports of rape. Lyft failed to follow through on its own timelines for doing so until now.”
While the number of attacks does sound high, both companies maintain that when you look at the total volume of rides booked through the companies over that period, the vast majority of trips — more than 99.9% — had no negative incidents.
The Lyft report revealed that 52% of the sexual assaults the company documented were reported by riders, 38% were reported by drivers, and the remaining 10% were initiated by third parties, including “law enforcement officials, regulators, family, friends or media reports.”
“While Lyft has benefited from Uber’s very public struggles with its own reputation over the years and is oftentimes painted as the friendly alternative, the two companies have faced similar issues when it comes to passenger safety,” O’Brien reported. “Lyft, however, had proven to be steps behind in adding safety features to address concerns.”
Recent Lyft innovations designed to protect rider safety include 911 access through the app, as well as security features to detect potential irregularities should a car go off its designated route path.
“Uber is slated to publish its second transparency report later this year,” O’Brien added. “Lyft has not committed to releasing any future reports on the topic.”