The report from Uber focused exclusively on rides in the U.S. and not the 65 other countries where Uber operates, including India, where a driver was sued in 2017 for allegedly raping a passenger. Uber says 0.0003 percent of trips ended in the kind of "critical safety incident" tracked in the new report.
The report added that passengers account for almost half of the accused parties, which could refer to an assault where another rider is the victim or the driver is the victim.
Sexual assault and other threats have been a concern broadly for the fast-growing ride-services industry around the world. Riders make up 45 percent of accused parties. The companies have been criticized over background check processes and responses to sexual assaults during rides.
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Nine "fatal physical assaults" were reported in 2018, down from 10 in 2017.
Since previous year, Uber says it has removed 40,000 drivers from the platform and improved its automated screening technology that checks criminal histories and past driving records - something you'd hope was done by an actual human.
Sexual assault in the report is defined broadly into categories including non-consensual kissing of a non-sexual body part, attempted non-consensual sexual penetration, non-consensual touching of a sexual body part, non-consensual kissing of a sexual body part and non-consensual sexual penetration. Sexual assaults commonly go unreported.
The company reported 58 Uber-related fatal crashes in 2018 and 49 in 2017. According to Uber, approximately 90% of Uber-related fatal crashes occurred in urban areas. But many say they haven't gone far enough to protect passengers and drivers, who are contract workers for the companies. "By sharing hard data, we can hold ourselves accountable and share best practices with other companies for the benefit of everyone".
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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. "Most companies don't talk about issues like sexual violence because doing so risks inviting negative headlines and public criticism".
Whilst that sounds pretty harrowing at face value, 1.3 billion rides were taken in the USA last year, which means that the number of unsafe incidents makes up just 0.0002 percent of total rides.
What's next: Uber also announced several new initiatives to enhance safety for riders and drivers. But it has once again raised questions about the safety of women passengers in the ride-hailing scheme of things.
With regards to sexual assault. It will share the names of deactivated drivers with other platforms for the first time, so they can't just start taking on passengers somewhere else, and next year it will expand sexual misconduct education training for drivers in a partnership with RAINN that will also include the creation of a Survivor Support hotline "that will provide confidential crisis support and specialized services to survivors".
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