Nearly two years ago, Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi convened a dozen of the company’s top executives in a room to discuss an important issue: the safety of drivers and riders. The topic was broad: how could Uber—with nearly four million trips happening every day in the US alone—become the safest ridesharing app in the world?
It was clear from this conversation that successfully achieving that mission required a deeper understanding of the toughest issues we face as a company, listening to the specific concerns and experiences shared by drivers and riders, and a close examination of how our technology could help us keep people safe.
What began that day was a 21-month effort that has included a review of hundreds of thousands of customer support requests; a complete rethink of how we categorize the most serious safety incidents that happen during Uber trips; an overhaul of how we train our support staff; and an even bigger investment in cutting-edge safety technology.
All of that work culminates in the Safety Report that we are sharing with you, the public, today.
To put US safety challenges in context:
- In 2018, over 36,000 people lost their lives in car crashes in the United States alone
- Approximately 20,000 people were the victims of homicide in 2017
- Nearly 44% of women in the US have been a victim of sexual violence in their lifetime—which means that more than 52 million women live with that experience every day
Every form of transportation is impacted by these issues. For example, the NYPD received 1,125 complaints of sex offenses in the transit system during the same time period covered by this report.
In the United States alone, more than 45 rides on Uber happen every second. At that scale, we are not immune to society’s most serious safety challenges, including sexual assault. Yet when collecting data for that portion of our report, we found there was no uniform industry standard for counting and categorizing those types of incidents.
That’s why, last fall, we partnered with the National Sexual Violence Resource Center and the Urban Institute to create this much-needed classification system—and we made it open source so that other companies can use it to improve safety for their own customers.
Voluntarily publishing a report that discusses these difficult safety issues is not easy. Most companies don’t talk about issues like sexual violence because doing so risks inviting negative headlines and public criticism. But we feel it’s time for a new approach. As someone who has prosecuted sex crimes and worked on these issues for more than 25 years, I can tell you that a new approach is sorely needed.
Confronting sexual violence requires honesty, and it’s only by shining a light on these issues that we can begin to provide clarity on something that touches every corner of society. And, most importantly, by bringing hard data to bear, we can make every trip safer for drivers and riders alike.
Because we alone cannot meet all of the safety challenges inherent in our industry, we’re already working with law enforcement officials, road safety organizations, and more than 200 gender-based violence prevention experts—including the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN), the National Alliance to End Sexual Violence, and the National Network to End Domestic Violence—to innovate on new approaches that will raise the bar on safety in ridesharing.
Because intent alone is not enough, we’ve tripled the size of our safety team since 2017, with more than 300 professionals now dedicated to safety for our core rides business.
And because we have one of the best technology teams in the world focused on safety, we’ve also added new safety features like our In-App Emergency Button, more rigorous background checks that continuously look for new criminal offenses, and technology that allows us to check in with customers if we detect a potential crash or unexpected long stop during a trip.
We’re constantly pushing to do more on safety. We’re rolling out new features that allow riders to verify their driver with a secure PIN code, send a text message directly to 911 operators, and report safety incidents to Uber before their trip is even over.
In some countries, we’re testing a feature to give drivers and riders the option to securely record audio during their trip as a safety precaution. We’re also committed to sharing the names of drivers who have been banned from our platform for the most serious safety incidents with our ridesharing peers.
Of course, this is more than an “Uber thing.” Safety should never be proprietary, and it’s our intention to make an impact well beyond our own company, encouraging others to be more transparent with their data and to share best practices that can make everyone safer.
To that end, we’re teaming up with RALIANCE, a national partnership dedicated to ending sexual violence in one generation, to establish RALIANCE Business: a new resource center that will be dedicated to helping public and private sector leaders adopt consistent, evidence-based standards and strategies to improve how they measure, respond to, and prevent sexual violence that may occur in the workplace or within business operations.
The moment is now for companies to confront it, count it, and work together to end it.
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“Uber has emerged as a leading partner in standing against sexual assault – not just through accountability and transparency, but also by supporting survivors, eliminating barriers to reporting, and taking steps to prevent violence and harassment. We call on other companies to follow Uber’s lead by partnering with anti-violence organizations and releasing their own reports.”
—Cindy Southworth, Executive Director, National Network to End Domestic Violence
“Sexual violence affects everyone in every industry. Bringing this issue it into the light, counting it consistently, and publicly sharing data is a gamechanger and something we don’t see very often. We’re pleased that Uber has not only voluntarily taken this step, but is also partnering with us to establish RALIANCE Business, a resource center that can help companies and organizations measure, respond to, and prevent sexual violence. If we want to end sexual violence in one generation, we need more data, and more companies willing to step up and be accountable.”
—Ebony Tucker, Executive Director, RALIANCE
“As an advocate who has been working in the movement to end sexual violence for the past 20 years, I welcome this unprecedented report. Efforts like this embolden our work for a safer future. By releasing this data publicly, Uber is confronting these challenging issues head-on rather than shying away from or minimizing the numbers. In fact, they made the intentional decision to be overinclusive, capturing data by accepting every report at face value.”
—Karen Baker, CEO, National Sexual Violence Resource Center
“We are proud to have partnered with Uber on a number of road safety initiatives and are pleased to see its continued investment in this space. Uber has taken a data-driven and transparent approach that will help provide a deeper understanding of road safety and how cities move.”
—Jonathan Adkins, Executive Director, Governors Highway Safety Association
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Q: What is in Uber’s US Safety Report?
Uber’s US Safety Report includes information about Uber’s actions on safety, as well as data on the most serious safety incidents reported on our ridesharing platform in 2017 and 2018. This includes traffic fatalities, fatal physical assaults and sexual assault.
Q: Why are you doing this report?
Most companies don’t talk about these hard issues, and they don’t share data about serious safety incidents that impact all companies because it can invite negative attention. We believe it’s time for a new approach. Keeping this information in the dark doesn’t make anyone safer. This report brings hard data to bear in order to drive accountability and improve safety for Uber and the entire industry.
Q: How does this report improve safety?
In order to improve something, you have to measure it. Yet data on serious safety issues, especially sexual violence, is sparse and inconsistent. By sharing hard data, we can hold ourselves accountable and share best practices with other companies for the benefit of everyone.
Q: What are new steps Uber will take to improve safety?
Uber is fully committed to unprecedented accountability and action on safety. In addition to the many policy improvements, stronger background checks and dozens of features we have rolled out over the last few years, we are committing to additional actions today:
- Deactivation sharing: We’re committed to finding a way to share the names of drivers who have been banned from our platform for the most serious safety incidents with our ridesharing peers. We want companies to be able to use this information to protect their customers.
- New technology features: We’re rolling out new features that allow riders to verify their driver with a secure PIN code, send a text message directly to 911 operators, and report safety incidents to Uber even before their trip is over.
- Uber Survivor Support Hotline: In 2020, Uber will partner with RAINN to provide a dedicated survivor hotline that will provide confidential crisis support and specialized services to survivors.
- Sexual misconduct education for all drivers: In 2020, Uber will expand sexual misconduct and assault education to all US drivers. We are partnering with RAINN, the nation’s largest sexual violence organization, to design and implement this program.
- RALIANCE Business: Uber is teaming up with RALIANCE, leaders in sexual violence awareness and prevention, to create a resource center that will help companies adopt consistent, fact-based standards and strategies and improve how they respond to, prevent, and publicly report on sexual violence.
Q: Why is the taxonomy so important?
Prior to this effort, there was no uniform industry standard to count reports of sexual assault consistently. This classification system will allow companies and organizations to not only track reports effectively, but to make this important data public and share best practices that make everyone safer.
Q: Why should we trust that these numbers are accurate?
Data integrity is very important to us, and that’s one reason it took almost two years of research to produce this report. We had a specialized team of data auditors working to measure accuracy and consistency every step of the way. We also turned to independent third-party organizations to vet our numbers and our process. The National Sexual Violence Resource Center reviewed how we applied the taxonomy to our incident data and The Chertoff Group, a firm with security and risk management expertise, evaluated our process.
Q: Will you soon have a report for other countries or regions around the world?
This was an intensive, nearly two-year effort and data integrity is really important if we want this type of reporting to have an impact. We’ll use what we learned in producing the US report to guide our next steps in other places.
Q: How does this data compare to other forms of transportation?
It’s difficult to make direct comparisons because organizations don’t proactively report like this. Data is sparse and definitions of sexual assault can vary by jurisdiction. That’s why we partnered with the National Sexual Violence Resource Center to create a classification system.
But we do know that every form of transportation is impacted by these issues. For example, the NYPD received 1,125 complaints of sex offenses in the transit system during the same time period covered by this report (source).
Q: Why should people feel safe riding or driving with Uber after seeing these numbers?
We believe Uber is one of the safest ways to get from A to B. The data in this report shows that serious safety incidents are exceedingly rare. In fact, more than 99.9% of trips end with no safety issue at all. While no form of transportation can ever be 100% safe, we’re continuously working to do more and do better on safety. We’ve also pioneered many industry-leading safety features such as continuous background screenings of drivers, a 911 emergency button in the app and our RideCheck feature.
Q: How do I report incidents like this to Uber?
We encourage riders and drivers to report any safety issue- big or small- to Uber because this information helps us maintain and enhance the safety of our platform. You can do so in a variety of ways, including: in-app, via our Critical Safety Line, and on the web.