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Uber received more than 3,000 sexual assault reports last year, company says

Ride-hailing company Uber revealed in a first-of-its-kind safety report issued on Thursday that it received more than 3,000 reports of serious sexual assaults last year and nearly that many the year before.

The company noted that the reports, covering 2017-2018, covered more than 2.3 billion rides — meaning that 99.9 percent of the rides were safe.

“One of the unfortunate but sad truths is that sexual assault, sexual violence is far more prevalent in American society than a lot of people recognize,” Uber’s chief legal officer, Tony West, told NPR. “That exists in companies, it exists in classrooms, it exists on university campuses and homes. Uber’s not immune to that.

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Uber put the reports into five categories: nonconsensual kissing of a nonsexual body part, attempted nonconsensual sexual penetration, nonconsensual touching of a sexual body part, nonconsensual kissing of a sexual body part and nonconsensual sexual penetration but not other types of sexual misconduct, such as masturbation or threats.

Drivers were not always the alleged attackers, the safety report notes, but are accused in 55 percent of the reports. However, drivers are accused in 92 percent of 464 rapes reported.

Ride-hailing safety has been a contentious issue for Uber and its main U.S. competitor, Lyft, almost from the start. Both companies have previously announced more stringent guidelines for hiring drivers and taking other steps to protect driers as well.

In addition to sexual assaults, the safety report covers deadly crashes and deadly assaults. Just over 100 people were killed in Uber-related accidents, the report says, noting that’s about half the U.S. motor vehicle fatality rate. The report also reveals that 19 people died in assaults during Uber rides: eight riders, seven drivers, and four third-parties. The report does not cover injuries.

According to the New York Times, the report has been released as both Uber and Lyft struggle financially. For example, the Times said, Uber posted a quarterly loss of $1.2 billion last month.

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[Featured image: An Uber office in Secaucus, N.J./AP Photo, Seth Wenig]