One year ago, we took a big, unprecedented step as a company: We released Uber’s first US Safety Report, the culmination of a months-long process to completely restructure our approach to safety and establish a new, high bar for corporate transparency.
Publishing such comprehensive, expert-validated and, in parts, self-critical data about safety was a first for our industry and beyond. However, being so open about our safety strengths and weaknesses was not easy.
We were guided then and now by a clear principle: People have a right to know about the safety records of the companies and organizations they rely on every day. Simply put, secrecy doesn’t make anyone safer.
Our work on the Safety Report began with listening to the experts. Devoted road safety advocates such as Mothers Against Drunk Driving and the Governors Highway Safety Association, and organizations who have made it their life’s work to help survivors of gender-based violence including the National Network to End Domestic Violence, the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, NO MORE, RAINN, RALIANCE, and so many more.
These dedicated advocates have guided our safety journey and helped us create policies and processes that are survivor-centric and rooted in best practices. From helping us create a first-of-its-kind model for categorizing and counting incidents of sexual assault and misconduct, to developing trauma-informed training and education for our drivers, riders and customer service employees, anti-sexual violence advocates were core to the Safety Report and recommendations which flowed from it.
As someone who has worked on preventing sexual violence against women and children for over 25 years both within and outside of government, I know how essential the continued counsel of these advocates has been to Uber’s safety efforts.
They illuminated how important empathy, the ease of reporting, and transparency are to a victim or survivor’s journey. They helped us understand that, while our company is not unique in facing these challenges, Uber’s efforts to shine a light on these issues could help improve safety across industries and prompt meaningful action leading to tangible results. This is especially true right now as we see how the COVID pandemic is exacerbating domestic and gender-based violence all around the world.
As part of our Safety Report, we pledged to release safety data every two years and make a number of improvements to enhance the safety of Uber’s platform. We have more work to do, but with the help of advocates and experts, we’ve made a lot of progress on our safety commitments.
Uber Survivor Resources Hotline and Fund
Today I’m pleased to announce the national launch of the Uber Survivor Resources Hotline and Fund in partnership with RAINN, the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization. This dedicated Hotline will offer immediate, confidential and trauma-informed support for survivors reporting critical sexual assault incidents related to the Uber app.
The Hotline is staffed by RAINN support specialists who are experienced in working with survivors of sexual violence. These specialists can provide callers with emotional support and help them understand their short- and long-term options, including information about therapy, local service providers, and the process of reporting to law enforcement, should they choose to do so.
RAINN will also help connect survivors to assistance through a newly established Uber Support Fund to help them access resources such as therapy to assist with their healing. Information about who has accessed the hotline and fund is confidential and will not be shared with Uber, and support is provided without legal provisions or pre-conditions.
We hope this, along with some of the other features we’ve introduced will encourage Uber users to report all safety concerns which helps us develop more proactive safety solutions for Uber and beyond.
We have also begun deploying mandatory sexual assault and misconduct education to active drivers in the US and Canada, following through on another commitment.
These educational resources, developed in partnership with RAINN, cover a wide range of interactions including respecting privacy and personal space, conversational boundaries, sexual violence awareness and bystander intervention, and offer strategies to promote safety on the Uber app.
This builds on the safety education Uber has provided to users over the past several years, including educational resources sent to riders and drivers when they receive a report of inappropriate behavior.
Similar education is now rolling out in other regions globally including South Africa, the UK, Belgium, the Netherlands, Italy, Portugal, and Spain.
New Safety Features
Uber has a dedicated technology team focused solely on safety innovation. This has enabled us to continue to pioneer a number of new safety solutions for our users, such as:
- An On Trip Reporting feature enabling riders to report non-emergency safety issues during a trip, when it’s convenient and top-of-mind.
- The Text-to-911 feature enabling riders to discreetly communicate with 911 dispatchers in an emergency.
- A PIN Verification feature to help riders verify their driver and car, and drivers ensure they have the right passenger.
Along with the progress we’ve outlined, we continue to work with our rideshare peers to develop a process for sharing the names of drivers deactivated for the most serious safety incidents.
And because it’s important to share what works, we’ve also collaborated with RALIANCE Business to help establish their new resource center dedicated to helping businesses and organizations adopt consistent, evidence-based standards and strategies to improve how they measure, respond to, and prevent sexual violence.
Sexual violence is tragically too common in society. Although our work is far from done, we will continue to embrace an expert-driven, action-oriented and transparent approach to ending such violence. And we will continue to share what we learn in an effort to make an impact well beyond our own company and improve safety for all, because safety should never be proprietary.