There were more than 3,000 sexual assaults and nine murders reported to Uber in the US in the last year alone, a world-first company safety report has revealed.
Uber has released a report detailing safety incidents involving the ride-sharing service in the US in 2017 and 2018.
It reveals there were 3,045 reports of sexual assault, nine murders and 58 fatal crashes involving Uber rides in 2018 in the US.
In the report, Uber said the overall safety incidents reported represented 0.0002 percent of the company’s 1.3 billion rides in the US.
The company began studying incidents of sexual assault and safety in late 2017 after new CEO Dara Khosrowshahi took over the reins of the company.
It has since partnered with the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, brought on chief legal officer Tony West and tripled the size of its safety team since 2017 to 300 employees.
“The numbers are jarring and hard to digest,” West told The New York Times. “What is says is that Uber is a reflection of the society it serves.”
The 84-page report reveals there were 2,936 reports of sexual assault in 2017 and 3,045 last year.
There were 49 fatal crashes involving an Uber vehicle in 2017 and 58 in 2018.
There were 10 murders in 2017 and nine last year. Of these, seven were drivers, eight were passengers and four were third-party bystanders.
More than 90 per cent of the reported rapes were of Uber riders, while reports of sexual assault were about even between drivers and riders.
In the report, Uber attempts to put the figures into context and play up the fact the majority of Uber rides occur without incident.
There are now nearly four million Uber trips every day in the US – about 45 rides every second.
“At that scale, we are not immune to society’s most serious safety challenges, including sexual assault,” the report said.
“Yet when collecting data for that portion of our report, we found there was no uniform industry standard for counting and categorising those types of incidents.”
Overall in the US there were 36,000 fatalities from car crashes in 2018, 20,000 people were victims of homicide and nearly 44 per cent of women in the US have been victims of sexual violence in their lifetime, the company said.
The report only details safety incidents in the US, with Uber not revealing when it will produce similar figures for Australia or the 65 other countries that it operates in.
“This was an intensive, nearly two-effort and data integrity is really important if we want this type of reporting to have an impact,” the company said.
“We’ll use what we learned in producing the US report to guide our next steps in other places.”
The report comes as Uber is facing growing pressure over its handling of safety issues and new measures on the platform.
The company recently settled with a woman who sued it and its executives for obtaining and mishandling her medical records after she was raped by an Uber driver in India.
Uber now employs automated technology to check its drivers’ records and criminal history.
Since this was implemented last year, Uber has deactivated 40,000 drivers in the US after they failed the automated tests.
It has also introduced an in-app emergency button, improved background checks, and is using technology to detect a potential crash or unexpected long stop during a trip.
Uber is voluntarily releasing the safety report – the first of its kind by a company – in an effort to change the way businesses approach safety, it said.
“Most companies don’t talk about issues like sexual violence because doing so risks inviting negative headlines and public criticism,” West said.
“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.”
The report is a “bold step” that “sets a new bar for corporate responsibility and transparency”, National Sexual Violence Resource Center CEO Karen Baker said.
“Never before have we seen a company disclose this level of information proactively,” Baker said.
“By releasing this data publicly, Uber is confronting these challenging issues head on rather than shying away from or minimising the numbers.
“We encourage other companies to follow Uber’s lead by bringing sexual violence to light, counting it consistently and publicly sharing data.
“This is how we can build on what we know, share best practices and make every industry safer for everyone.”