Over 3,000 sexual assaults, which include 229 rapes, is no small number, though the company points out it represents just 0.0002 percent of Uber’s 1.3 billion rides in the United States last year. Taking into account incidents from 2017 as well, that number jumps to nearly 6,000, but as many sexual assaults aren’t reported, the numbers could be higher.
Across 2017 and 2018, 107 people died in crashes involving Uber vehicles, and 19 were killed in physical assaults during or soon after a ride. There were 2.3 billion Uber trips during those two years.
Although there are no similar statistics available for taxis, the New York Times notes that there were 533 recorded sex crimes and rapes on transit systems last year, according to the New York Police Department.
"At the scale that Uber operates, we're going to see both the good and the bad that happens in society because we're operating so many trips every single day," said Tony West, Uber's chief legal officer.
"One of the unfortunate but sad truths is that sexual assault, sexual violence is far more prevalent in American society than a lot of people recognize," he said. "That exists in companies, it exists in classrooms, it exists on university campuses and homes. Uber's not immune to that."
In the long run, we will be a better company for taking this step today—because I firmly believe that companies who are open, accountable, and unafraid are ultimately the companies that succeed. (3/3)— dara khosrowshahi (@dkhos) 5 December 2019
Some of the changes Uber has implemented to improve safety include letting passengers record audio if they feel uncomfortable, the RideCheck feature for detecting crashes and unexpected stops, and an in-app feature that dials 911. The company will also be sharing the names of deactivated drivers with other platforms, expanding its sexual misconduct education training, and introducing an option that lets riders verify their drivers with a PIN code.