Most people would think that it is safe to call an Uber after a night out of drinking. Little do they know though is that they are putting their livelihood at risk for just a ride. Reports have stated that over 103 Uber drivers have been convicted of rape and assault with the ride-sharing company. California has been listed as one of the prominent states that the sexual assaults have been experienced and states such as Massachusetts, Colorado, and Texas have also been included in the rap sheet.
Here’s more on ride-sharing attacks and how you can make sure you ride home safely.
High-Profile Uber Rape Cases
In one year, Uber has given over four billion trips to riders.
One rider, following a night out of partying, an unconscious woman was seen being lifted inside a motel room by a surveillance camera. The man who was dragging her inside the room was ex-Uber driver Westagne Pierre who then raped her, stole her credit card and then left her half-naked in the motel room.
After waking up, the female passenger called 911 and while sobbing told the emergency dispatcher “I don’t know how I woke up here. I don’t know.” Unfortunately, this driver was only one of the 103 Uber drivers that have been accused of sexually assaulting a rider.
Another woman was raped in the back of an Uber. When she regained consciousness from her alcohol consumption he was lying on top of her.
Numerous victims of Uber drivers assaulting women have been accounted for over the years and the number is still increasing. Victims are not staying quiet though. A woman assaulted in Miami told CNN “How many people is it going to take to get assaulted before something is done?”
Attacks as recent as June 2018 have occurred as well. Uber driver, Mark Filanov was arrested for kidnapping three women in Sacramento County. DailyMail.com reported that after leaving a book club the three women then became concerned when Filanov drove past multiple exits that were not in the direction of their destination.
Flanov then said to the three women, “OK, now you’re going to tell me the real story or we’re all going to die.”
Uber Attacks and Murders
Sexual assaults are not the only dangers that a rider can face while in an Uber. Some even have lost their lives at the hands of an Uber driver. In June of 2018 Michael Andre Hancock, a Colorado Uber driver shot rider Hyun Kim at 3 a.m. in the morning.
Hancock claimed that he shot Kim out of defense because he was being attacked. He was taken in by officers and is facing charges of first-degree murder.
Other Uber deaths have not come in the form of attacks but in car accidents. Foreign exchange student Justine Van Ginderachter was killed in an auto collision in March of 2018. The case is still being investigated on whether the driver of Uber was at fault.
Ginderatcher was nineteen years old.
Uber riders are not the only ones in the car that have suffered physical attacks though. There have also been crimes against Uber drivers. One of the Uber driver’s assaults by passengers took place in the state of New Mexico which involved a woman being raped and kidnapped.
Gabriel Munoz was indicted on 12 charges of violating and beating his Uber driver. Officials investigating the case told the AlburquerqueJournal that the attack was “deeply disturbing and something nobody should have to experience.”
The female Uber driver that was assaulted was told by Munoz not to bother getting dressed because she was going to die.
His trial date is set in September 2018.
What Uber is Doing About the Assaults
Since the sexual attacks on riders, Uber has taken measures to ensure the safety of its passengers. Safety features such as the panic button and sharing your location have been implemented.
When on a trip, riders can access the panic button that will directly connect them to 911. Although this solution may seem reassuring, so far, the panic button has only been implemented in cities such as Florida, Tennessee, South Carolina, and Colorado and that does not include the entire state. The emergency feature is exclusive to specific cities in states as of June 2018.
As for sharing your location with fellow riders, the Uber feature allows five “trusted contacts” of your choosing to see if you arrived at your destination safely.
Uber is also claiming to be working with RapidSOS, an emergency call start-up company to add an item that will send officers the exact location of your Uber at a time of distress.
Do Drivers Undergo Background Checks?
The multiple arrests that have taken place due to the attacks Uber riders have faced have pushed Uber to run thorough background checks. Uber CEO, Dara Khosrowshahi stated in an Uber News blog post that “We can do more to ensure drivers continue to meet our standards on an ongoing basis, long after they take their first trip.”
Uber requires that their drivers now undergo a background check which includes the giving of the prospective driver’s social security number which gives Uber access to any criminal or sexual offenses on record.
Many safety authorities are calling for Uber to have a detailed analysis of a potential driver that would involve a fingerprint.
Deactivation of an Uber Driver
Uber automobilist has not only have had to worry about their safety but also with staying an employee at the company. Uber has raised their standards for becoming an Uber driver. Drivers who log into their account and see messages such as “your account needs attention” or have received an email that you have been deactivated, which means that more than likely your employment with Uber has been terminated. Uber does not let go of their drivers randomly though. The following are the top five reasons of how you can get fired by Uber. 5 common reasons why you have been fired from Uber:
- Failing the background check: Uber wants to make their rides safe. The ride-share company runs a background check on its drivers once a year. Uber may not even ask for a driver’s consent to run the background check. There is also not a set date in which Uber runs the checks of the drivers.
- Rejecting too many rides: As an Uber driver, you can cancel or refuse to pick up a customer for a ride. If you cancel one too many times though you can get fired. Many drivers who try to steer clear of low ride acceptance rates agree to pick up a person but then soon after canceling the ride. This is cheating, and this does not aid in the prevention of you getting fired. If you cancel an excessive amount of Uber rides then you will be dismissed.
- Driving dangerously: The way Uber can determine if you are putting your riders at risk is by Uber ratings and reviews. What Uber declares as poor driving conduct includes driving under the influence of marijuana or alcohol and violating any federal traffic offenses such as running a red light.
- Documents are not up to date: If documents regarding your car are expired this can get you terminated by Uber but this also can get you into to some serious legal trouble. Having a suspended license, expired vehicle registration or expired tags is a driving violation. Make sure to always provide Uber with recent documents of your vehicle or license.
- Bringing a friend along for the ride: It is permitted that you bring one of your companions to accompany you on your ride. In fact, if your passenger does report you, you will be deactivated immediately from being an Uber driver. One of the primary reasons you cannot bring a friend is because the rider may feel uncomfortable. Also, if you do not have the bare minimum number of seats that Uber requires which is four, you may not be able to fit all the passengers in your car.
Taxis Have an established system
An Uber and a taxi may seem similar because of the ride-sharing abilities but are very different. Taxis are limited with dates and timing options for riders. For example, if you try to order a taxi the night before a departure from an airport your chances of catching a ride are slim.
What Uber offers is the convenience of ordering a ride at any time at any place.
Uber is available worldwide in 400 cities and 60 countries that include locations such as Mexico, Saudi Arabia and Japan.
What Uber does not have though is years of experience.
Since the taxi industry has been around for many years it is an industry that has been rigorously regulated with intense background checks before a driver begins employment. A report conducted by OSHA indicated that over the years the number of violent incidents that have occurred has declined and has far fewer attacks on drivers as well as riders than Uber has within two years.
Uber may be Cheap, but Lyft is Safer
Uber and Lyft are the two dominant companies in the ride-sharing industry. These competitors have similarities as far as features and options for riders, but here is one key difference: pricing. There are factors that go into pricing such as area, timing and the number of passengers in the car. Uber beats Lyft when it comes to costs though.
Uber has a “surge” feature where you can get an estimate of how much your trip will cost at a certain time. The price is also 20% more economical for riders. The Lyft app does not have a price estimator.
As far as customer service goes through, according to riders, Lyft drivers are more accommodating to their customers. Data has shown that Lyft has a small number of assaults as opposed to the high volume of Uber attacks and Uber kidnapping statistics.
Uber Data Breach
To add to the Uber crime rate, the ride-sharing company has had many class-action lawsuits regarding data breaches and the misuse of customer information.
In 2017 Uber riders experienced a security breach in personal information. The Los Angeles Times reported that in 2016 a hacker obtained information that included email addresses and cell phone numbers from 5.7 million people all over the world. Uber drivers were also not susceptible to this incident. Over 600,000 drivers’ licenses numbers were had been stolen.
Uber then employed hackers to hide the fact that a data breach had taken place in the first place. Customers and drivers were strongly encouraged to file a class-action lawsuit.
How You Can Ensure Your Safety as a Driver and Rider
The ride-sharing industry has grown fast and has become a normal mode of transportation. With the growth though there has been a growing number of problems that have followed, and it has been at the expense of female drivers.
Uber and other resources have provided suggestions on how you can save as a driver and rider. The following is a list of measures you can take to have a safe ride to your destination.
- Remember you can always cancel: As an Uber driver or passenger you do have the option to cancel a ride. Do not feel obligated to take a ride from an Uber driver that does not have the best ratings. Waiting for a driver that has better ratings can protect you in the long run.
- Look at Driver and rider ratings: Driver ratings have been a key indicator for riders feeling safe before getting into a car. What has not been popularized yet in the Uber driver community is customer ratings. Drivers have the option to view what other drivers have said about a past customer. If you see that a past customer has received reviews that imply that he/she was inappropriate or dangerous then cancel your ride.
- Make sure fellow passengers under the influence get home safely: It has become a big staple after a night of going out to call an Uber. Many people in Uber are so inebriated though that they are not fully aware of their surroundings or worse, become unconscious. It is better than before the night begins when people are sober to initiate a safe riding plan. Always be accompanied by a friend to avoid going home alone.
We can help you after an Uber Incident
If you have been a victim of an Uber data breach or have experienced serious injuries in an Uber car accident, the personal injury attorneys of Bisnar Chase are here to help you recover. Injuries after a car accident or a person obtaining and using your personal information can be costly. Call to speak to one of our expert team members and learn more about the legal options you have against ride-sharing companies.