Houston, Texas – Yet another lawsuit has been brought against Uber by a woman who says she was sexually assaulted by her male driver during a late-night ride. According to the lawsuit, the incident took place around 2:30 a.m. on September 18. The complainant, a 21-year-old Houston woman identified in the lawsuit as Jane Doe, says that she was intoxicated and headed home after a night out with friends when she got sick in the Uber. She told Houston police that the driver stopped the car and then proceeded to touch her breast. The Houston Police Department has confirmed that they are investigating the case, but no charges have been filed as of now.
The Rise of Rideshare Assault
In recent years, the astronomical growth of rideshare services like Uber and Lyft has transformed the way we navigate our cities. These convenient and affordable transportation options have become a staple in the lives of many, offering an alternative to traditional taxis or public transportation. However, with this convenience comes a significant risk: rideshare assault.
Types of Assault
Rideshare assault encompasses a range of unwanted and non-consensual behaviors that passengers may experience during their rides. These incidents can include non-consensual touching, groping, indecent exposure, explicit comments, and other forms of sexual misconduct. Uber’s official definition of sexual assault is non-consensual kissing, touching, and penetration of sexual and non-sexual body parts. It is important to note that not all incidents of rideshare assault fall under the category of sexual assault, as some may be classified as sexual misconduct.
Prevalence of Rideshare Assault
The frequency of rideshare assaults is a cause for concern. According to a safety report published by Uber, between 2017 and 2020, there were 9,805 reported cases of sexual assault. However, it is essential to view these numbers in the context of the vast number of rides provided – Uber gave 4.4 billion rides in the U.S. during that same period. While the reported incidents represent a small fraction of overall rides, even a single case of assault is cause for concern.
Details of the Houston Lawsuit
Jane Doe’s lawsuit is the most recent case highlighting the issue of rideshare assault. In addition to suing Uber, the woman also filed a sexual assault report with the company, but it remains unclear whether the accused individual has been removed from their pool of drivers. According to a safety report published by Uber, an accused person’s access to the rideshare app is immediately revoked while the alleged incident is reviewed by the company.
The Houston woman’s attorney, Bret Stanley, believes that Uber could do more to ensure passenger safety and prevent such incidents from occurring. Stanley is part of a multi-district litigation (MDL) filed against Uber for sexual assaults on passengers. The MDL comprises 180 cases from across the country, with more expected to be filed. The main objective of the litigation is to bring about change and hold Uber accountable for creating a safer space for passengers.
The Need for Increased Safety Measures
Uber recognizes the serious nature of sexual assault and claims to investigate every report and allegation. In response to questioning by ABC13, Uber stated, “Sexual assault is a horrific crime, and we take every report of this nature very seriously. While we cannot comment on pending litigation, we are deeply committed to the safety of all users on the Uber platform.” The company maintains that 99.9% of their trips end without incident. However, they acknowledge the need for increased safety measures and have implemented various features on their app in recent years to enhance passenger safety.
Surveillance and Monitoring
One potential safety measure that could reduce the incidence of rideshare assault is enhanced surveillance during rides. Stanley suggests that Uber could require drivers and passengers to agree to audio or even video monitoring during rides. This additional layer of accountability could deter potential perpetrators and provide evidence in the event of an assault.
Improved Driver Screening and Training
Another crucial step in preventing rideshare assault is to enhance driver screening and training processes. This includes conducting thorough background checks, verifying driver credentials, and providing comprehensive training on appropriate behavior and passenger safety.
Reducing the Risk of Rideshare Assault
Rideshare assault is a deeply concerning issue that demands attention from both rideshare companies and society as a whole. By implementing enhanced safety measures and improving driver screening and training, rideshare companies can work towards making rides safer for all passengers. It is crucial to hold these companies accountable and ensure that they make passenger safety a priority.