Uber Safety Report Says Sexual Assaults Down but Rate of Traffic Deaths Up

Uber mentioned in a security report on Thursday that sexual assaults in its ride-hailing automobiles have been down considerably since its final report however that the speed of deadly automobile crashes had elevated.

The corporate mentioned 3,824 sexual assaults have been reported on its U.S. platform in 2019 and 2020, whereas 20 folks have been killed in assaults and 101 died in crashes.

The report was a sequel to Uber’s preliminary report, which it launched in 2019. The corporate dedicated to releasing experiences each two years, nevertheless it mentioned the brand new review had been slowed by a pandemic-related delay in 2020 knowledge from the Nationwide Freeway Site visitors Security Administration. Uber makes use of the company’s methodology and knowledge requirements to research car fatalities.

Reported sexual assaults have been down from 5,981 in 2017 and 2018, the interval lined by Uber’s first report, although the corporate logged far fewer journeys in 2020 due to the pandemic: 650 million in contrast with 1.4 billion in 2019. Nonetheless, Uber mentioned the speed of reported sexual assaults had decreased 38 p.c.

Deaths from assaults have been related from 19 within the earlier interval, as have been deadly crashes, which killed 107 folks in 2017 and 2018. Uber mentioned the spike within the fee of deadly automobile crashes mirrored an total deadlier yr on the roads in 2020, which is backed by knowledge from NHTSA.

Deaths elevated that yr partially due to rushing on less-crowded highways through the pandemic, making it the deadliest yr since 2007, NHTSA mentioned, Although a lot of the Uber-related car deaths within the two years occurred in 2019, the speed was greater in 2020.

The corporate mentioned that 99.9 p.c of Uber rides happen with out incident, and that simply 0.0002 p.c of all rides embody one of many vital security incidents talked about within the report. The info doesn’t embody accidents and tallies solely rides, not meals deliveries on UberEats.

Uber has tried to reshape its picture, and releasing security knowledge has been seen a key element of that makeover.

The corporate has added security choices in recent times, comparable to the power for drivers to movie rides and for each drivers and riders to document audio from them within the Uber app. Uber mentioned that greater than 500,000 potential drivers had did not move its screening course of in 2019 and 2020, and that greater than 80,000 drivers had been faraway from the app because of the corporate’s steady checking of felony information.

“Secrecy doesn’t make anybody safer,” Tony West, Uber’s chief authorized officer, mentioned in a press release. “That’s why we name on corporations throughout the business to step up and likewise be trustworthy with the general public about their security information.”

He added, “By confronting the difficulty and counting experiences constantly, we will work collectively to assist finish sexual violence.”

In current months, driver advocacy organizations and members of Congress have pressured gig corporations to enhance the security of their drivers, and one report estimated that at the least 50 gig drivers had been killed on the job since 2017. Uber’s report Thursday mentioned 19 drivers have been killed in 2019 and 2020 — 14 in crashes and 5 in assaults.

Uber works with insurance coverage corporations to assist drivers with accidents and accidents, and pays for harm safety insurance coverage in some states the place legal guidelines require it, mentioned Andrew Hasbun, an organization spokesman. The corporate additionally affords an Uber-specific hotline for survivors of sexual assault, in partnership with the Rape, Abuse & Incest Nationwide Community, he mentioned.

Cherri Murphy, a former Lyft driver and spokeswoman for Gig Staff Rising, a driver advocacy group, questioned whether or not driving for Uber was secure.

“Uber executives need you to assume that throwing numbers and statistics on the reporters will idiot us into believing Uber is secure for employees and for passengers,” Ms. Murphy mentioned in a press release. “However employees have lengthy identified that the security options they converse of are faux, and fail to maintain employees secure.”

Uber mentioned that it couldn’t present numbers about Covid-19 publicity or deaths amongst Uber drivers, however that it had allotted $50 million globally towards security provides like masks and hand sanitizer, and given drivers affected by Covid greater than $40 million in help.

Uber divides reported sexual assault into 5 classes, together with nonconsensual kissing, rape and tried rape. The most important variety of experiences have been “nonconsensual touching of a sexual physique half.”

Throughout the 5 classes, alleged perpetrators and targets have been roughly break up between riders and drivers. Drivers have been accused of assault in 56 p.c of instances and riders in 43 p.c. Drivers have been the sufferer in 39 p.c and riders in 61 p.c.

Indira Henard, a member of Uber’s Security Advisory Board and the chief director of the D.C. Rape Disaster Middle, mentioned releasing knowledge about sexual assaults might assist dispel stigma round an underreported sort of crime.

“By being clear with their security document, Uber is aiming to cease the silence round gender-based violence,” Dr. Henard mentioned in an interview.

Drivers’ Lawsuit Claims Uber and Lyft Violate Antitrust Laws

A bunch of drivers claimed on Tuesday that Uber and Lyft are partaking in anticompetitive practices by setting the costs prospects pay and limiting drivers’ potential to decide on which rides they settle for with out penalty.

The drivers, supported by the advocacy group Rideshare Drivers United, made the novel authorized argument in a state lawsuit that targets the long-running debate in regards to the job standing of gig economic system staff.

For years, Uber and Lyft have argued that their drivers must be thought of unbiased contractors somewhat than staff below labor legal guidelines, which means they’d be chargeable for their very own bills and never sometimes eligible for unemployment insurance coverage or well being advantages. In alternate, the businesses argued, drivers might set their very own hours and preserve extra independence than they may in the event that they had been staff.

However of their grievance, which was filed in Superior Court docket in San Francisco and seeks class-action standing, three drivers declare that Uber and Lyft, whereas treating them as unbiased contractors, haven’t really given them independence and are attempting to keep away from giving drivers the advantages and protections of employment standing whereas setting restrictions on the way in which they work.

“They’re making up the principles as they go alongside. They’re not treating me as unbiased, they’re not treating me as an worker,” mentioned one of many plaintiffs, Taje Gill, a Lyft and Uber driver in Orange County, Calif. “You’re someplace in no man’s land,” he added.

In 2020, Uber and Lyft campaigned for drivers and voters to assist a poll measure in California that will lock within the unbiased contractor standing of drivers. The businesses mentioned such a measure would assist drivers by giving them flexibility, and Uber additionally started permitting drivers in California to set their very own charges after the state handed a regulation requiring firms to deal with contract staff as staff. Drivers thought the brand new flexibility was an indication of what life can be like if voters authorized the poll measure, Proposition 22.

Drivers had been additionally given elevated visibility into the place passengers wished to journey earlier than they needed to settle for the experience. The poll measure handed, earlier than a choose overturned it.

The subsequent yr, the brand new choices for drivers had been rolled again. Drivers mentioned they’d misplaced the flexibility to set their very own fares and now should meet necessities — like accepting 5 of each 10 rides — to see particulars about journeys earlier than accepting them.

The drivers mentioned now they lacked each the advantages of being an worker and people of being an unbiased contractor. “I couldn’t see this as truthful and affordable,” Mr. Gill mentioned.

The shortcoming to view a passenger’s vacation spot earlier than accepting the experience is especially onerous, the drivers mentioned. It typically results in unanticipated late-night journeys to faraway airports or out-of-the-way locations that aren’t value efficient.

“Tens of millions of individuals select to earn on platforms like Uber due to the distinctive independence and suppleness it gives,” Noah Edwardsen, an Uber spokesman, mentioned in an announcement. “This grievance misconstrues each the information and the relevant regulation, and we intend to defend ourselves accordingly.”

A Lyft spokeswoman, Jodi Seth, mentioned in an announcement, “Voters in California overwhelmingly supported a poll measure that delivers what drivers need and might’t get by way of conventional employment: flexibility and independence.” She added, “Lyft’s platform gives helpful alternatives for drivers in California and throughout the nation to earn wages when and the way they need.”

Within the lawsuit, the drivers are asking that Uber and Lyft be barred from “fixing costs for ride-share providers” and “withholding fare and vacation spot information from drivers when presenting them with rides” and be required to offer drivers “clear per-mile, per-minute or per-trip pay” somewhat than utilizing “hidden algorithms” to find out compensation.

The drivers are suing on antitrust grounds, arguing that if they’re labeled as unbiased contractors, then Uber and Lyft are interfering with an open market by proscribing how they work and the way a lot their passengers are charged.

“Uber and Lyft are both employers accountable to their staff below labor requirements legal guidelines, or they’re sure by the legal guidelines that prohibit highly effective companies from utilizing their market energy to repair costs and have interaction in different conduct that restrains truthful competitors,” the lawsuit says.

Specialists mentioned the grievance can be an extended shot in federal courtroom, the place judges sometimes use a “rule of cause” to weigh antitrust claims towards client welfare. Federal courts typically enable probably anticompetitive practices that arguably profit customers.

For instance, Uber and Lyft would possibly argue that the obvious restraints on competitors assist preserve down wait instances for purchasers by making certain an satisfactory provide of drivers. The lawsuit argues that permitting drivers to set their very own costs would doubtless result in decrease fares for purchasers, as a result of Uber and Lyft preserve a considerable portion of the fares, and what prospects pay sometimes bears little relationship to what drivers earn.

Regardless of the case, courts in California may very well be extra sympathetic to a minimum of a few of the claims within the grievance, the specialists mentioned.

“In case you apply a few of the legal guidelines mechanically, it’s very favorable to the plaintiff in a state courtroom and below California regulation particularly,” mentioned Josh P. Davis, the pinnacle of the San Francisco Bay Space workplace of the agency Berger Montague.

“You would possibly get a choose who says: ‘This isn’t federal regulation. That is state regulation. And if you happen to apply it in an easy manner, pare again the entire gig economic system complexities and take a look at this factor, we now have a regulation that claims you may’t do that,’” Mr. Davis mentioned.

Peter Carstensen, an emeritus regulation professor on the College of Wisconsin, mentioned he was skeptical that the drivers would get traction with their claims that Uber and Lyft had been illegally setting the worth drivers might cost.

However Mr. Carstensen mentioned a state choose would possibly rule within the plaintiffs’ favor on different so-called vertical restraints, such because the incentives that assist tie drivers to one of many platforms by, for instance, guaranteeing them a minimum of $1,000 in the event that they full 70 rides between Monday and Friday. A choose could conclude that these incentives largely exist to scale back competitors between Uber and Lyft, he mentioned, as a result of they make drivers much less more likely to change platforms and make it more durable for a brand new gig platform to rent away drivers.

“You’re making it extraordinarily troublesome for a 3rd social gathering to come back in,” Mr. Carstensen mentioned.

David Seligman, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, mentioned the lawsuit may gain advantage from rising scrutiny of anticompetitive practices.

“We predict that policymakers and advocates and courts throughout the nation are paying extra consideration and extra intently scrutinizing the methods through which dominant firms and companies are abusing their energy within the labor market,” Mr. Seligman mentioned.

The drivers say the rollback of choices like setting their very own costs has made it harder to earn a residing as a gig employee, particularly in current months as fuel costs have soared and as competitors amongst drivers has began to return to prepandemic ranges.

“It’s been more and more harder to earn cash,” mentioned one other plaintiff, Ben Valdez, a driver in Los Angeles. “Sufficient is sufficient. There’s solely a lot an individual can take.”