In a safety report published by Lyft at the end of October, it was revealed that they had more than 4,000 cases of reported sexual assault between 2017 and 2019. Though the company is being praised for their transparency, these numbers sound like alarming news to regular users of the app.
The report breaks down the cases into five categories. For the category, “non-consensual touching of a sexual body part,” there are a total of 2,300 cases reported between those three years. For “non-consensual sexual penetration,” there are 360 reported cases.
This is particularly concerning for college students who live on campus and don’t have a car. With the Elmhurst University shuttle bus making a return, there may be certain instances where students don’t have to use a ride-share app anymore. Even so, there are some destinations where the bus does not make a stop and students will have to find alternative means of transportation.
In a short survey conducted by The Leader, 52.6 percent of responses revealed that the responder felt unsafe at one point while using a rideshare service. 84.2 percent identified as female, and 68.4 percent said they were not surprised at the total number of cases reported by Lyft.
Delving deeper into the Lyft report, the introduction starts off stating that, “since Lyft’s founding in 2012, safety has been fundamental to everything we do.” There is also a claim that these incidents are statistically very rare, although, “even one of these incidents is too many.”
A portion of their safety protocol consists of a 24/7 Critical Response Line, a two-way rating system, and a background check conducted on the drivers. Although the company states that over 99 percent of rides were completed without incident, the incidents that did occur reveal that users should still be cautious of their surroundings when using these services.
In an article published by State Farm, they listed numerous additional precautions to take when using these services. The main precautions are to ride with others, sit in the back seat using a seat belt, and to be aware of your surroundings. Keep an eye on your route to make sure the driver does not veer off course.
An additional precaution is to follow gut feelings. If something feels off prior to getting on, such as the vehicle not matching the description, the passenger has the right to cancel.
Though Lyft emphasizes that these statistics reveal a low amount of sexual assault cases on their service, they only touch upon those cases that are reported. According to the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network, “only 310 out of every 1,000 sexual assaults are reported to police.”
The true accuracy of Lyft’s figures remain unclear.