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Uber Safety Report Unveils Thousands Of Sex Assaults Involving Riders And Drivers

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – An Uber report unveiled thousands of sexual assaults in a recent two-year period, raising new safety concerns.

The 84-page report released Thursday includes attacks on both riders and drivers.

Hailing a ride from services like Uber and Lyft has become the norm around the country. As the companies have grown over the years, so have safety concerns.

The report found nearly 6,000 reported incidents of sexual assault during rides in the U.S. in 2017 and 2018. Among those were 464 reports of rape.

WEB EXTRA: Read Uber's Safety Report

Uber pointed out 99.9% of trips ended without any safety-related issues.

"When something does happen - and it does happen, this is real life - we respond in a way that's victim-centric, that's victim-first," CEO Dara Khosrowshahi told CBS News in September.

In that interview, the CEO spoke about the push to protect customers, including new safety measures like an in-app function that allows them to text 911 in emergencies.

"We're not perfect. I wouldn't claim to be perfect. But I believe that we're significantly better than we were last year," said Khosrowshahi. "Next year, darn it, we're going to be better."

FLASHBACK: Police: 15-Year-Old Girl Escapes From Uber Driver Who Kidnapped Her, Intended To Sexually Assault Her

Lyft is also under increased scrutiny. Earlier this week, 19 women and one man filed a lawsuit claiming the company puts riders in danger. Lyft said that "safety is fundamental" and it added 14 new safety features this year.

"Safety is the cornerstone of all healthy communities, and it's one of the key values Lyft was founded on. We don't take lightly any instances where someone's safety is compromised, especially in the rideshare industry, including the allegations of assault in the news last week," Lyft President and Co-Founder John Zimmer said in a statement. "The reality is that certain populations carry a disproportionate burden simply trying to get to work or back home after a night out — in the U.S., one in six women will face some form of sexual violence in their lives. The onus is on all of us to learn from any incident, whether it occurs on our platform or not, and then work to help prevent them."

Both companies are working with the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network.

"We appreciate Uber's transparency in releasing data on sexual violence. We look forward to working with Uber to further its goal of ensuring safe and respectful ride share experiences for every rider and driver. We'd love to see organizations in every industry, including educational institutions, make a similar effort to track and analyze sexual misconduct within their communities," RAINN said in a statement. "We look forward to working with Uber to further its goal of ensuring safe and respectful ride share experiences for every rider and driver. We also want every survivor to know that RAINN offers 24/7 support through the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800.656.4673 and"

Uber said it is also taking the following actions to improve safety moving forward:

·  Deactivation sharing: We're committed to finding a way to share the names of drivers who have been banned from our platform for the most serious safety incidents with our ridesharing peers. We want companies to be able to use this information to protect their customers.

·  Sexual misconduct education for all drivers: In 2020, Uber will expand sexual misconduct and assault education to all US drivers. We are partnering with RAINN, the nation's largest sexual violence organization, to design this program.

·  Verify Your Rides: Soon we will offer all US riders the option to verify each of their rides with a unique, 4-digit PIN that they can verbally provide to their driver, who will have to enter it into their own app in order to start the trip. This helps riders ensure that they're getting into the right car, and it helps drivers ensure that they're picking up the right rider.

·  On-trip reporting: This feature, soon to be available nationally, allows riders to report a non-emergency safety issue during an Uber trip, when it is top of mind, so they don't have to wait until after the trip ends.

·  Text to 911: In select cities, in addition to calling 911 through the app, both drivers and riders are now able to text 911 to discreetly share car information, location, and direction of travel with 911 call-takers.

·  Uber Survivor Support Hotline: In 2020, Uber will partner with RAINN to provide a dedicated survivor hotline that will provide confidential crisis support and specialized services to survivors.

·  Raliance Business: Uber is teaming up with RALIANCE, leaders in sexual violence awareness and prevention, to create a resource center that will help companies adopt consistent, evidence-based standards and strategies and improve how they respond to, prevent, and publicly report on sexual violence.

·  Safety Investments: See here the investments we've made on safety over the past two years.

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