There were 360 reports of rape by those using the ride-hailing app between 2017 and 2019
Vehicle-for-hire company Lyft has said that more than 4,000 people were sexually assaulted during their journeys, between 2017 and 2019.
“While safety incidents on our platform are incredibly rare, we realise that even one is too many,” wrote Jennifer Brandenburger, head of policy development and research at Lyft in a blog post on Thursday.
The long-promised figures from by the San Francisco-based company included 4,158 reports of sexual assault, including 360 reports of rape, 2,300 reports of “nonconsensual kissing or touching of sexual body parts,” 672 reports of “nonconsensual kissing of nonsexual body parts” and 320 reports of “attempted nonconsensual sexual penetration”.
Lyft stated in the report that rape occurred once in every 5,000,000 journeys between 2017-19, and non-consensual touching of a sexual body part happened one in every 800,000 rides for the same period.
“The type of safety incidents detailed in this report occurred on 0.0002 per cent of rides, and well over 99 per cent of all rides occur without any safety report at all,” said Ms Brandenburger.
Lyft states that it now has a team of 400 “Safety Specialists” who “pursue ways to create safer ride experiences”.
Although Lyft does screen drivers for criminal offences and driving incidents, Lyft puts some of the onus on those using the app to protect their own safety. “Your personal safety always comes first. That’s why it’s important to trust your gut,” it states on its website. “Follow your instincts and leave the area if you’re in an uncomfortable or unsafe place or situation.”
In California, as a requirement of Proposition 22, which gives gig workers wage and benefit protections, all drivers must complete a community safety education course. Lyft’s course emphasises “the prohibition of sexual misconduct of any kind. In addition, topics covered include the importance of respecting other people’s boundaries, strategies for defusing uncomfortable situations, and how to report incidents to Lyft and access support”.
But the ride-hailing company does not automatically reprimand all accused perpetrators or report the instances of sexual assault to police. “The decision to report [sexual assault] and when to do so is a deeply personal one,” wrote the company, stating that the reason for this is to give “survivors as much agency as possible when deciding whether and how to report an incident,” states the report.
“Generally speaking, individuals who are accused of committing the types of incidents detailed in this report will be permanently removed from the Lyft community, preventing them from riding or driving in the future,” stated Lyft.
The call for Lyft to release its sexual assault figures came after ride-hailing app Uber was widely criticised for not doing enough to protect passengers and drivers.
Uber disclosed its safety failings in late 2019, stating that between 2017-2018, nearly 6,000 people had reported a sexual assault.