Uber is more trusted to handle sexual assault and harassment, according to a survey of nearly half a million ride-share users, and Lyft gets no better.
Drivers who had sexual assaults during their ride with Lyft during the past year were far more likely to refuse to talk to Lyft’s victim response team than Uber drivers who reported sexual assaults, according to the results of a survey of 36,560 Lyft riders in three cities — New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco — and 2,424 Uber riders in three cities — Chicago, Seattle and Washington, D.C.
In New York City, where Uber already has strict regulations requiring rideshare companies to train drivers about potential dangers, Uber drivers who committed sexual assaults were 13 times more likely to refuse to talk to Lyft’s customer service or victim services teams than Lyft drivers who committed sexual assaults.
Uber drivers who had sexual assaults in Los Angeles were 11 times more likely to refuse to talk to Lyft’s victim response team, and in San Francisco, drivers who had sexual assaults were 11 times more likely to avoid Lyft’s staff, according to Lyft’s survey.
But Lyft drivers who committed sexual assaults were more likely to give victims their last name than Uber drivers who committed sexual assaults. Lyft’s surveys said only 40 percent of Uber drivers who had sexual assaults identified themselves.
Lyft has faced similar accusations in the past. Only 38 percent of Uber drivers who told their employers they had sexually assaulted riders or passengers were immediately reported to Lyft’s lead complaint team. In a statement responding to the recent findings, Lyft blamed the government for failing to toughen its regulations on ride-sharing companies. Lyft said that in New York, Uber “has been quietly expanding and creating new ways for drivers to evade the laws.”
And Uber said it was not surprised by the results.
“Uber has seen drivers who are vulnerable to more frequent and more severe assaults and has enhanced their safety procedures by making our network as safe as possible,” Uber spokeswoman Alix Anfang said in a statement. “Moreover, as with Lyft, Uber promotes the use of safety features like push notification services, information screens and GPS tracking, which enable us to respond to incidents more quickly. It’s unsurprising that they would claim this survey proves these measures aren’t working, given the high rates of allegations they have received over the years.”
The Department of Transportation has made reports of sexual assault and harassment by Uber drivers mandatory for licensing purposes, but Lyft’s survey offered the first comprehensive data that directly suggests the company is making progress on addressing the issue.
The California Department of Motor Vehicles said that Lyft had increased its number of nonemergency safety reports to 39 percent of its drivers after approving its Enhanced Safety Program, while Uber increased its reporting rate from 8 percent to 25 percent. Lyft had slightly better safety ratings, too: 1.19 stars on average, with 2.79 stars for Uber, 1.78 stars for Sidecar and 0.50 stars for UberX.
Lyft had offered safety features before Uber developed the same, but the Enhanced Safety Program makes Lyft more sophisticated, said Waggener Edstrom Worldwide, the Chicago-based communications firm that conducted the survey for Lyft.
“What Lyft is doing is making riders more aware of the available protections, ensuring they know the person next to them is a safe driver,” said Eric Bromberg, the firm’s president and chief operating officer. “At the same time, there are fewer drivers on the road. It’s adding a level of safety that Uber, which has a company-owned fleet, has not really brought to the table, from a customer’s perspective.”
Lyft said its customers would continue to provide the data needed to strengthen its policies. “We look forward to the opportunity to continue working with law enforcement to improve how we respond to incidents in the future, which is why we continue to encourage riders and drivers to use the safety tools we have to ensure their rides are as safe as possible,” the company said in a statement.