Have You Experienced Sexual Assault Or Abuse?

Are Ubers Safe?

Uber has been a convenient method of travel — but are vulnerable groups like teens, women, and solo passengers really safe?

Survivor Advocate

Reviewed By: Melissa Reitberg

Uber Sexual Assault Attorney

Key Takeaways

  • Based on available data, a majority of Uber sexual assaults happen to solo female passengers
  • While millions of rides happen without incident each day, thousands of individuals have reported sexual assault incidents and filed lawsuits against Uber for violence and traumatic experiences 
  • Answering the question “Is Uber Safe?” is a very personal question — but there are ways you can increase your safety and get help if an incident does occur

Is Uber Safe?

Founded in San Francisco, CA in 2009, Uber has grown to become the largest rideshare company in the world with over 9.44 billion rides completed in 2023 — an increase in almost two billion rides over 2022. 

If you travel, don’t own a vehicle, or are looking to go out with friends without having to be responsible for driving home, you’ve likely used Uber, Lyft, or another rideshare service. And if you haven’t taken an Uber before, one of the main questions you might have is: Are Ubers safe? 

You might even be asking that if you’ve taken an Uber before and experienced a not so great ride or, worse, felt physically unsafe during the experience. 

Unfortunately, thousands of passengers are sexually assaulted, kidnapped, trafficked, or harmed in other ways at the hands of their Uber driver. 

In Uber’s own safety reports, published in 2018 and 2020, there are over 10,000 reported cases of sexual assault, abuse, and harassment perpetrated by Uber drivers in the United States. Thousands of these individuals have filed rideshare sexual assault lawsuits against Uber to hold them accountable and seek justice and healing after their traumatizing experiences. 

These rideshare statistics showcase the safety issues with Uber and other rideshare companies. Namely, those who are critical of Uber’s commitment to safety cite the following safety concerns: 

  • Faulty Background Checks: The background check regulations in the United States enable violent perpetrators to hide, seal, or expunge their criminal records, enabling them to pass Uber background checks. While Uber does background check their drivers and have some other basic requirements, critics continue to cite faulty backgrounds checks as a leading cause of rideshare sexual assault. 
  • Lack of In-Vehicle Recording: Unlike taxis, Uber drivers are not required to have video cameras or other recording equipment in their vehicles, as they are driving their own car and are classified as 1099 contractors. Because rides are not monitored by video or audio recordings unless the driver opts in, this can create an unsafe environment for Uber passengers. 
  • Lack of Safety Features and Customer Support: While Uber does have some safety features such as sharing your location with trusted contacts and the ability to contact 911 through text, many survivors of rideshare sexual assault report not being able to utilize these features in the moment. 
  • Lack of Customer Support After Incident: If a rideshare sexual assault or other form of harm happens, many survivors state that after the reported to the platform, Uber never followed up with them after filing their initial report and they were unsure if the driver was allowed to continue causing harm or if they had been reported previously. 

So… are Ubers safe? That is a personal question that each individual has to decide for themselves. We are not here to fearmonger readers like you — but we also want to share real information so you can make an informed decision and know the best rideshare safety tips so you can stay safer should you use Uber. 

 

Last Date Modified
May 29, 2024

Is Uber Safe for Teens?

In 2024, Uber released a new feature called “Uber for Teens” which enables parents or guardians to give consent to teens aged 13-17 years old to take an Uber without them in the car. 

The “Uber for Teens” feature works by adding their profile to a Family Account but the ability to access this feature may depend on the city and state. Guardians are notified each time they request a ride, the location of the ride, and are sent updates along the drive. 

Before a teen can take their first solo Uber ride, they are required to complete a safety onboarding process, which educates them about the safety features available to them during their rides. Teens can have their friends ride with them as long as they are over 13 years old and any guest riders aged 13 to 17 must verbally say that they have permission from a parent or legal guardian (although the driver cannot confirm this in any way). 

Anyone under 13 years of age is not permitted to ride without their parent or guardian. Additionally, if a driver believes a passenger is under 18 and they do not have an “Uber for Teens” account, the driver can reject the ride citing this reason. 

So – is Uber safe for teens? Given its history of sexual abuse incidents, there are many experts and advocates who would reasonably say no, Uber is not safe for teens.

While Uber requires teens to undergo a safety onboarding experience, this also illustrates the company’s fears of allowing minors in cars with adult drivers. “Uber for Teens” was initially launched in major metropolitan areas, likely due in part to safety concerns for minor passengers in suburban or rural areas. 

For Uber Teen accounts, some safety features are automatically enabled such as PIN verification and RideCheck and they cannot be disabled. Additionally, Uber states that teens “will always be matched with highly rated and experienced drivers and couriers.” 

However, this does not mean that Uber is completely safe for teenagers. While they have added several safety features, many of the same safety issues still exist. This includes drivers using someone else’s rideshare profile, a new but highly-rated driver who is attracted to minors picking up the child, and those with violent criminal records passing Uber’s background check system.

Is Uber Safe for Women?

Uber’s second US Safety report stated that 81% of rideshare sexual assault survivors who reported “non-consensual sexual penetration” were women. 

The same report goes on to state “Across the 2019-2020 time frame, ~41% of all reports of non-consensual touching of a sexual body part involved touching of women’s breasts…” 

These ridshare sexual assault statistics are harrowing — and are, unfortunately, representative of the broader societal issue of violence against women and girls. 

Women and girls are particularly vulnerable to rideshare sexual assault due to no fault of their own — the perpetrators of sexual violence explicitly target these individuals and the blame can only be placed on them. 

Women deserve to feel safe existing in the world, but the reality is that they often have to take extra precautions and safety measures, and using, unfortunately, Uber is no different. 

Women who use Uber can be targeted if they are:

  • Riding alone
  • Riding late at night
  • Traveling in a foreign place (including outside of their home state or country)
  • Traveling outside of a major city (such as to a suburban or rural area) 
  • Intoxicated or under the influence
  • Asleep 

While a majority of Uber rides are completed with no safety issues, thousands of women have come forward with their harrowing and traumatic experiences in the news, on social media, and in lawsuits against Uber for sexual assault, kidnapping, and other violent crimes. For this reason, many women believe Uber does not feel safe to use. 

Many women, especially if it is late, would prefer to have a female driver. 

As a female passenger, can you request a female driver on Uber? No. 

This is likely due to the fact that a majority of Uber drivers are men — as women Uber drivers face their own set of challenges, including sexual assault and harassment by male passengers. You can reject a ride and attempt to wait for a female driver, but this can take a long time or be nearly impossible to find, especially if you are in a more suburban area. 

However, you can refuse a ride if you feel uncomfortable with the driver picking you up or if you believe the driver is not the driver as seen within the app (such as a male driver if their photo is a woman in the Uber app).

Always trust your gut instincts, ask what their name is prior to entering the vehicle, and, if possible, stay on the phone with someone you trust during the ride. 

There are a few smaller rideshare companies that operate in certain US cities that focus on employing women drivers and increasing women passenger safety including: 

  • Safr
  • Sheba
  • See Jane
  • DriveHer
  • SheSafe

Additionally, you can also take taxis, which many experts believe are generally safer than rideshares for a variety of reasons. 

In 2022, Uber did launch the “Women Rider Preference” for their women and non-binary drivers, that enables them to set a preference to only receive trip requests from women riders. But, the desire for women passengers to have women drivers outpaces the amount of female Uber drivers. 

If you are going to take an Uber as a woman, you can use these rideshare safety tips and the provided in-app safety features, including audio recording. 

Is Uber Safe to Use Alone?

While the data is a bit unclear in both of Uber’s US safety reports, it appears that a large majority of Uber sexual assaults happen with a solo passenger in the vehicle. 

This makes sense given the fact that the ability to perpetrate the harm relies on the perpetrator’s ability to take advantage of the situation: whether being alone, intoxicated, or asleep. 

Safety experts and advocates always recommend taking an Uber with someone if possible, which can include sharing a ride with a friend or utilizing Uber’s shared ride feature “UberX Share” where other passengers may be added to the ride at any time. Using the “Uber Share” feature does mean that you will be in the car with another stranger, but having another person present in the car is likely a large enough deterrent. Additionally, those drivers who have enabled the “Uber Share” feature may be less likely to perpetrate harm in general as they know other passengers will likely be added to the trip. 

There are things you can do if you must take an Uber alone to help increase your safety. Again, we hate that the onus is put onto the Uber passenger to protect themselves, we also have to be grounded in this fact. 

We’ve put together this rideshare safety guide which includes tips beyond what Uber tells you including to ask for their name (not who they’re picking up) and video or audio recording the entire ride on your own phone, especially if you have any bad gut feelings. 

In general, those riding alone, women, and teenagers are more susceptible to experiencing sexual assault while using rideshare services, including Uber. If you have been a victim of sexual abuse, reach out today and let us connect you with an Uber sexual assault lawyer that can help you understand your legal rights and options. 

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