Sexual Assault, Battery and Rape Allegations Continue to Plague Tech Platform
Travel options can make daily or occasional commuting easier, cheaper, and in many cases, safer. But what happens when a widely used commuting choice is deemed unsafe? That’s the most recent dilemma ride-hailing company Uber, its customers and drivers, are facing in one of the world’s largest cities: London.
Background on Uber’s Public Safety Strife
Transport for London (TFL) has decided on the “grounds of public safety and security” that the popular ride service is not fit to hold a license in London. As a result, the regulator refused to renew Uber’s license to operate due to “corporate irresponsibility.”
TFL’s decision comes after a series of rape, sexual assault and aggressive behavior charges have been made against the tech company from several cities worldwide. In April 2016, a district attorney in San Francisco sued Uber for falsely claiming they had used “the most comprehensive screening of would-be drivers available.” It was later revealed that these screenings did not include fingerprinting for past convictions, and Uber settled the case for $10,000,000.
A public awareness site called Who’s Driving You has been set up as a source to track news related to accidents, sexual assault and other serious incidents connected with both Uber and Lyft. Uber’s license terminates at the end of September 2017.
Uber’s new CEO, Dara Khosrowshahi, is asking the city to “please work with the ride-share service,” and says the taxi app company will appeal the decision. The company has 21 days to file the appeal, and can continue providing service until the appeal is exhausted. Approximately 3.5 million Londoners use Uber on the regular, and 40,000 drivers depend on it for income.
Insufficient Background Checks Present Inevitable Problems
According to TFL, safety concerns stem from Uber’s approach to the following:
- Failure to report serious criminal offenses
- How drivers’ medical certificates are obtained
- Conducting insufficient background checks on drivers
- Using a software app that can block regulatory access
Female Passengers Press Charges
Most disconcerting is the high level of sexual assault accusations garnered by Uber, and also sexual remarks, such as one driver who discussed a teenage female’s virginity. Intoxicated female passengers are at a particularly high risk for being assaulted while using the ride-share service. According to several women who intend to file legal actions against Uber in California, most all of the reports had the following in common:
- Driver was male
- The women were intoxicated
- They rode in the front seat
- They were alone
- The assault occurred at night
More Cities Closing the Door
San Francisco-based Uber operates in more than 600 cities globally, although its safety problems are not isolated to England or the United States. So far, several large cities have made changes to help protect commuters:
- In 2014, Uber was banned from New Delhi following the sexual assault of a passenger
- Australia’s Northern Territory, Darwin, is debating allowing Uber’s return
- Denmark is questioning Uber after a series of incidents in its country
5 Tips for Avoiding Potential Assault While Using Uber
1. Do Not Sit In The Front
Ride in the back right seat giving you plenty of personal space, and an ability to exit the car on the opposite side of the driver should you feel uncomfortable.
2. Say No To Opened Drinks & Beverages
Avoid accepting unsealed water, other drink, food or gum.
3. Avoid Solo Trips
Ride with a friend when possible, the pattern of assaults took place when the rider was solo.
4. You Can Always Decline The Ride
If you don’t feel comfortable getting into the car, simply decline the ride.
5. Always Let Someone Know Where You Are Going
When traveling alone, if ride-shares are difficult to find, call or text a friend to tell them you are using a ride-share and that you will text or call when you arrive at your destination.
6. Share This With Your Friends
Share this information and help protect close friends and others who frequently use ride-share, especially after drinking.
Have You Been Assaulted? Speak To An Attorney
If you have been assaulted in any way by a ride service driver, you should seek medical care immediately if needed, report the incident to police and contact a lawyer at no-cost. The attorneys of The Flood Law Firm are always here to help listen, offer guidance and explain your legal rights. Contact our Connecticut law firm today by calling (860) 346-2695 for a no-cost, no-obligation consultation to discuss your case.