Asim Nabi/Contributing Writer
Despite efforts to improve rider safety, students should be concerned after Uber released their first sexual assault report this year.
Popular ride-sharing app Uber, amidst growing safety concerns, released an astonishing and anticipated 84-page safety report on counts of sexual assault and rape. An unimaginable 5,981 reports of sexual assault (includes 464 reports of rape) were reported back to Uber between 2017 and 2018, according to CNN. This came two years after the former CEO and co-founder of the ride-sharing app Travis Kalanick had to resign after ignoring reports of sexual misconduct and unethical culture within the company.
The sharing of the reports comes at a tough time for the company, as it is struggling with making a profit. Its new CEO Dara Khosrowshahi commented on the report, saying 99.9 percent of rides start and finish without any kind of incident.
Despite all these claims of how the ride-sharing app has come up with new features such as in-depth background checks for drivers, there is a growing concern among students who use Uber to ditch their own car and make way towards college.
Just a year ago, an Uber driver was convicted of raping a 26-year-old woman in his car in Wynwood while she was drunk and was unable to even walk. The driver had a history of criminal records and a pending lawsuit against him. This raises questions over the background check policy of Uber, who says it hires independent third party organizations for the process.
However, last spring, Uber announced a partnering program with leading campus safety organizations to revamp student safety education and equip students with safety best practices while on and off-campus. Tools such as an in-app safety banner – a safety feature is periodically highlighted in-app the moment a rider is connected to the driver and an “Arriving Now” card – which provides riders with the driver’s photo and first name, the license plate and make and model of the car – were added by Uber for this initiative.
These safety features will help riders feel safe, but the reality of the statistics is far more dangerous, as about two-thirds of reported cases of rape in Ubers were not reported to the police.
Considering the availability of vehicles, faster trip times and money saved from owning a vehicle, Uber seems to be a better option for a student who is often burdened with coursework, assignments, and homework – only when a proper protocol for safety is taken seriously.
Featured photo by Stock Catalog on Flickr.
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