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Lyft reveals more than 4,000 reported sexual assaults in three years

  • October 22, 2021

More than 4,000 cases of sexual assault were reported on the Lyft platform between 2017 and 2019, according to the company’s first safety report.

According to the long-awaited report, there were 1,807 sexual assault incidents in 2019, 1,255 in 2018 and 1,096 in 2017. More than half of these incidents involved “non-consensual touching of a sexual body part” and 360 involved non-consensual sexual penetration, in that timeframe.

Lyft also reported 10 fatal physical assaults in the three-year time span. 

RALIANCE, a national sexual violence prevention organization, reviewed Lyft’s sexual assault data, while The Chertoff Group, a security and risk management advisory firm, analyzed safety incidents.

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The release comes nearly two years after Lyft initially pledged to release sexual assault data in 2019, the same year competitor Uber released its own safety report revealing that more than 3,000 sexual assaults during U.S. rides were reported in 2018. 

It’s unclear how accurate these figures are since not all cases of sexual assault are reported.

Lyft’s report highlights how rare the reported incidents are, accounting for roughly 0.0002% of rides. 

“While safety incidents on our platform are incredibly rare, we realize that even one is too many,” Jennifer Brandenburger, Lyft’s head of policy development and research, said in a Thursday blog post. “Behind every report is a real person and real experience, and our goal is to make each Lyft ride as safe as we possibly can.”

The company’s decision to release these figures follows a flurry of lawsuits accusing the ride-hailing company of failing to protect riders from sexual assault.  

In 2019, one lawsuit was filed on behalf of 14 women who said they were sexually assaulted by drivers in 2018 and 2019.  

Lyft responded by launching an in-app emergency button to call 911, adding a “smart trip” notification system for rides with unexplained delays, mandating community safety education for drivers and partnering with RAINN, the country’s largest anti-sexual violence organization.

The company also screens all drivers for criminal offenses and driving incidents before hiring and continues to screen them on an annual basis.

“We’re proud of Lyft’s longstanding commitment to safety for every ride, and the impact that ridesharing has had on the standard of safety in the transportation industry,” Brandenburger said. “We understand that our work is never finished, and we will continue to invest in efforts that help protect and empower our community.”

Follow USA TODAY reporter Bailey Schulz on Twitter: @bailey_schulz

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