Uber has been in some mighty-hot water lately, and they’re finally taking some semblance of action. There’s been an upsetting proliferation of incidents in which female passengers have reported assault or sexual harassment by Uber drivers. In particular, the car service app got some highly-negative (validly so) press for not properly vetting its drivers after one driver in Chicago was charged with attacking one of his customers, (a 22-year-old woman who he allegedly took back to his house and sexually assaulted after she fell asleep in the back of his car). And that’s just one of the scary stories out there.
In Los Angeles, a woman claims that her driver kidnapped her and brought her to an empty parking lot. In New Delhi, the ridesharing service was banned after an Uber driver allegedly raped a passenger.
The company has now responded by rolling out a “safe ride checklist” for riders in Chicago and Boston (though we definitely think they should be rolling this out across the board). The checklist is a pop-up screen inside the app that reminds passengers to make very sure that they’re getting into the right car. It instructs passengers to confirm that both the license plate number and the name and picture of the driver match the one represented by Uber.
“We are being responsive” Uber Chicago’s general manager Chris Taylor told the Chicago Sun-Times. “Given there have been some accusations . . . we want to make sure everyone knows how to use the platform in the safest way possible.” Some Uber riders do not think the company is doing enough. True, the checklist helps prevent women from getting into the wrong car. But it doesn’t weed out verified Uber drivers who assault their female passengers. Most of the reports and complaints filed are against drivers who actually are legitimate Uber drivers — not examples of women getting into a rando’s car because they don’t understand how to use the app.
Furthermore the checklist has the air of placing the responsibility for the assault on the customers. Should company’s really provide checklists for how not to be assaulted by their employees?
The checklist is a good step in that it’s acknowledging the issue, but it’s FAR from enough to prevent incidents from happening in the future. How about a total overhaul of hiring practices too, Uber?