Lyft recorded 4,000 reports of sexual assault within three years

The ride-hailing app Lyft received more than 4,000 reports of sexual assaults during rides from 2017 to 2019, the company revealed in a new report, including 1,800 reports in 2019 alone.

Lyft revealed the numbers on Thursday, after having pledged in 2019 to do so. In its report, the company said the number of sexual assault reports collected through its app had risen from 1,096 in 2017 to 1,255 in 2018 and 1,807 in 2019.

More than half of the incidents in 2019 were reported as “non-consensual touching of a sexual body part”, according to the report. Another 156 reports involved non-consensual sexual penetration, according to the report. It also listed 10 fatal assaults from 2017 through 2019, including four in 2019.

Lyft released the figures nearly two years after its rival Uber put out a similar report that showed more than 3,000 sexual assaults were reported on rides within the US in 2018.

Ride-hailing companies have come under increasing scrutiny over safety issues, especially sexual assaults, with victims and members of Congress putting increased pressure on the platforms to act.

Alison Turkos, a New York City resident who has sued Lyft, alleging her driver sexually assaulted her in 2017, said on Friday that the report came after years of pressure from herself and other survivors.

“Rideshare sexual assault is a systemic problem and one Lyft actively chooses to ignore,” she said on Twitter. “It is exhausting holding a billion-dollar tech company accountable but I will never back down. We deserve better.”

In a class action lawsuit in 2018, nine women accused Uber of attempting to silence their reports of sexual assault by forcing them to individually settle their cases through arbitration, a private process that often results in confidentiality agreements. Uber was fined $59m by a California regulator in 2020 for failing to comply with a request for data on sexual assault incidents in its vehicles.

Lyft was sued by more than a dozen women in 2019 who alleged the company had failed to enact basic safety measures that would have prevented the alleged assaults. The women also said the company downplayed the seriousness of the attacks when they were reported.

Lyft says it screens all drivers with initial and annual background checks and that it monitors criminal and driving records. A company official said in a blogpost on Thursday that the rate of sexual assaults as a percentage of rides decreased by 19% over the three-year period covered in the report. The company also said that from 2017 to 2019, more than 99% of rides occurred without any reported safety-related incident.

“While safety incidents on our platform are incredibly rare, we realize that even one is too many,” Jennifer Brandenburger, the company’s head of policy development and research, said in the blogpost.

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