Uber reveals thousands of reported sexual assaults in US

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"From 2017 to 2018, Uber saw approximately a 16 percent decrease in the average incident rate across the five most serious sexual assault categories reported", the report said.

It said it received 235 reports of "non-consensual sexual penetration" a year ago and 280 of "attempted non-consensual sexual penetration" - almost all filed by women.

Uber noted that both drivers and riders were attacked, and some assaults occurred between riders. Riders make up 45 percent of accused parties. The report noted that some assaults occurred between riders.

With regard to fatal accidents, across 2017 and 2018, only about 40% of those killed were either drivers or riders using uber, the rest were third parties.

The five subcategories it classed sexual assault into ranged from "Non-Consensual Kissing of a Non-Sexual Body Part" to "Non-Consensual Sexual Penetration". Sexual assaults commonly go unreported.

Uber also reported 97 fatal motor vehicle crashes involving its rides over the last two years, and another 19 cases of fatal physical assaults.

Regulators have long said Uber's screening process was insufficient and inferior to those in place for taxi drivers, with several US cities attempting to compel Uber to mandate fingerprinting of its drivers.

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Almost half of the accusations of sexual assault mentioned in the safety report were against passengers, indicating that Uber drivers were also victims of serious incidents. However, Uber said the trend need not remain this way, as releasing such data may lead to an increase in reporting of such incidents in the future.

Uber based its numbers on reported assaults from riders and drivers, noting the actual numbers could be higher.

Uber's VP and global head of community operations Troy Stevenson also disclosed last month that his company focused too heavily on adding people to its platform, rather than investing in a long-term business model. "It's really unprecedented for a company to collect this kind of systematic data over time and then share it with the public", says Karen Baker, CEO of the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, which advised Uber on the study.

According to the study, the proportion of assaults to total trips decreased by 16 percent previous year as Uber implemented new safety tools, such as contacting drivers and customers when the system identifies unusual activity, as well as adding a button to dial 9-1-1 from the app.

But ride-hailing is not without its risks.

The firm, which operates in 70 countries, said the report showed its commitment to transparency to improve accountability and safety industry-wide. Uber ultimately announced it would do away with a policy that previously forced individuals with sexual-assault complaints into arbitration and made them sign non-disclosure agreements. It is also conducting "more rigorous background checks" on drivers.

Bomberger said he believes 80% to 90% of the assaults in the Uber report could have been prevented by measures such as cameras in the cars recording rides and the companies reporting every assault they learn of to the police.

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