Have You Experienced Sexual Assault Or Abuse?

Uber and Lyft Sexual Violence Statistics

Explore detailed data and reports on incidents of sexual violence in rideshare services. This page offers an in-depth look at the prevalence, patterns, and safety concerns faced by riders and drivers.

Key Takeaways

  • Although both Uber and Lyft claim to have vetting protocols for hiring drivers, including background checks, there is still risk to using rideshare services
  • Uber’s first safety report revealed 5,981 sexual violence or assault allegations in 2017 and 2018 — 3,045 of which were in 2018. Lyft’s first safety report was released in 2020 and showed similar percentages of sexual violence against rideshare passengers
  • If you or someone you know has experienced rideshare sexual assault, you have legal rights and options including filing a civil complaint to seek compensation
Did you experience sexual assault in an Uber or Lyft?

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Over the last ten years, we have seen the rise of the rideshare market with Uber and Lyft being the top two largest ridesharing companies in the United States.

Ridehsharing made the concept of hailing a cab easier, faster, and more affordable for people around the world, including in more rural areas where cabs and other forms of transportation are more limited.

Although they tout themselves as an easy, reliable, and safe form of transit, thousands of incidents of harm from sexual assault to murder have happened over the years in rideshares.

When stories about violence or sexual assault against a driver or passenger are made public, it makes passengers uneasy and forces ridesharing apps to invest further in trust and safety. It’s unfortunate that it takes harm happening to get these companies to do something, which is why it is important to provide individuals with statistics and data so they can make informed decisions.

Each company proclaims strict hiring guidelines for all its drivers, who are legally designated as independent contractors. The apps themselves have features that allow passengers or drivers to contact emergency services discretely if they feel in danger.

However, thousands of incidents of harm are still happening and it’s essential to shed light on the facts about Uber, Lyft, and sexual assault.

Last Date Modified
February 26, 2024
Content Reviewed By:

Kathryn Kosmides
Managing Director | Helping Survivors

2024 Updates: Rideshare Sexual Assault Litigation

February 12, 2024 – Uber Sexual Assault MDL Reaches 100 Lawsuits Filed

The multidistrict litigation (MDL) against Uber has reached its 100th lawsuit. The MDL was ordered in October 2023 so the over 10,000 Uber passengers who have reported Uber sexual assaults as passengers would have an opportunity to seek justice and compensation for the harm that happened to the.

February 6, 2024 – Uber Fights to Dismantle Sexual Assault MDL with Appeal

On October 4, 2023, the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) decided to consolidate all federal cases filed by Uber passengers for sexual assault by rideshare drivers – now known as Uber Passenger Sexual Assault Multi-District Litigation (MDL).

In an appeal, Uber attempted to argue for the disbanding of the MDL as everyone is waiting on the appellate court’s decision on this issue. Uber argued that the MDL formation is an abuse of discretion and that the consolidation did not take into account various state laws that apply to the cases.

The JPML has never been overruled or reversed on their decision to centralize cases. The decision on this appeal is to be determined as of February 19, 2024.

December 2023 to January 2024 – Uber Attempts to Change Name of MDL to not Reference “Sexual Assault”

After the cases were combined in October 2023 by the JPML under the name “Uber Passenger Sexual Assault Multi-District Litigation (MDL)”. Uber attempted to have the name of the MDL changed to remove the phrase “sexual assault”, arguing that the term implies a presumption of guilt against the defendant.

In December 2023, The U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) decided not to alter or eliminate the term “sexual assault” from the title of the federal Uber sexual assault cases consolidated under Judge Breyer in the Northern District of California.

In January 2024, quite a bit happened in regards to this litigation. The Ninth Circuit is set to reevaluate the Uber sexual assault multidistrict litigation, with a key dispute over the cut-off date for new claims. Uber seeks to limit the enrollment of new cases. Meanwhile, six new lawsuits have been filed against Uber, alleging sexual abuse by drivers, with two cases reporting rape. The Ninth Circuit has also requested the California Supreme Court to address legal questions regarding Uber’s liability in cases where the perpetrator was a former driver who was not actively employed. 

Why is Ridesharing Vulnerable to Sexual Assault?

Ultimately, the ridesharing industry relies on strangers feeling comfortable enough to get in another stranger’s car and a stranger feeling comfortable enough to pick up strangers and drive them around.

There are many inherent risks in that equation — from a history of bad driving to violent criminal pasts and everything in between.

When it comes to being a rideshare user or passenger, being in another person’s vehicle can make passengers somewhat of a captive audience, because they are stuck in a moving vehicle with someone. From reckless driving to feeling uncomfortable with comments from the driver, passengers are often forced in uncomfortable situations.

Uber Sexual Violence Statistics and Facts

After a 2018 CNN report disclosed dozens of sexual violence crimes perpetrated by Uber drivers, the company began an exhaustive investigation and compiled their first US safety report, released in 2019.

The report revealed that Uber received a combined 5,981 sexual violence or assault allegations in 2017 and 2018 — 3,045 of which were in 2018.

The reported categorized the offenses and noted that the sexual assaults (non-consensual sexual contact) fell into one of five categories:

  • Kissing a non-sexual body part
  • Kissing a sexual body part
  • Touching a sexual body part
  • Attempted sexual penetration
  • Sexual penetration

Uber Sexual Assault Data for 2017

570

Non-consensual kissing of a non-sexual body part

307

Attempted non-consensual sexual penetration

1440

Non-consensual touching of a sexual body part

390

Non-consensual kissing of a sexual body part

229

Non-consensual sexual penetration

Uber Sexual Assault Data for 2018

594

Non-consensual kissing of a non-sexual body part

280

Attempted non-consensual sexual penetration

1560

Non-consensual touching of a sexual body part

376

Non-consensual kissing of a sexual body part

235

Non-consensual sexual penetration

Although some of these incidents were actions perpetrated by passengers against the driver, most of the assaults were of drivers assaulting passengers.

Lyft Sexual Violence Statistics and Facts

Lyft published their first US-based safety report in 2021, which included data about three categories of safety incidents reported on the Lyft platform in the United States from January 1, 2017 to December 31, 2019.

The report revealed that Lyft Received 4,158 Sexual Assault Reports from 2017 to 2019. 

The report categorized sexual assault in the same way that Uber had previously used, to keep reporting language and the data the same across the industry. To repeat, the reported categorized the offenses and noted that the sexual assaults (non-consensual sexual contact) fell into one of five categories:

  • Kissing a non-sexual body part
  • Kissing a sexual body part
  • Touching a sexual body part
  • Attempted sexual penetration
  • Sexual penetration

Lyft Sexual Assault Data for 2017

167

Non-consensual sexual penetration

598

Attempted non-consensual sexual penetration

131

Non-consensual kissing of a sexual body part

107

Non-consensual touching of a sexual body part

93

Non-consensual kissing of a non-sexual body part

Lyft Sexual Assault Data for 2018

212

Non-consensual sexual penetration

661

Attempted non-consensual sexual penetration

172

Non-consensual kissing of a sexual body part

99

Non-consensual touching of a sexual body part

111

Non-consensual kissing of a non-sexual body part

Lyft Sexual Assault Data for 2019

292

Non-consensual sexual penetration

1041

Attempted non-consensual sexual penetration

203

Non-consensual kissing of a sexual body part

114

Non-consensual touching of a sexual body part

256

Non-consensual kissing of a non-sexual body part

Although some of these incidents were actions perpetrated by passengers against the driver, most of the assaults were of drivers assaulting passengers.

Rider Safety Initiatives from Uber and Lyft

Uber and Lyft have both introduced new features intended to protect consumers against harassment and violence. Uber now has a “panic” feature that riders can discreetly engage, alerting the company and local authorities of danger.

Uber also initiated the Industry Sharing Safety Program, a program for all ridesharing companies to exchange information about drivers who have been reported for harassment, or charged or convicted of assault, sexual harassment, or sexual assault — although the efficacies of this program have been questioned by experts and data has not been revealed.

In September 2023, Lyft enacted a new feature called “Women+ Connect” that allows women and non-binary riders to request a driver of a certain gender. 

They also offer the ability to share your ride information with others and contact customer support.

Tips to Reduce the Risk of Sexual Assault in Rideshares

Many people, after they’ve experienced sexual assault, may question what they could have done to prevent the assault. The answer is that nothing you could have done prevents a sexual predator from attempting to commit sexual assault. You, as the victim, are not to blame.

There are a few safety tips that riders can use to reduce their risk for any type of assault, sexual or otherwise:

  • Before getting into the car, ask the driver who they are picking up (do not ask if the car is for your name, ask who they’re picking up instead) along with confirming the driver’s name, the license plate, as well as the make and model of their car
  • Check the driver’s rating on your mobile rideshare app and check to ensure the photo of the driver matches the person who is actually picking you up
  • Use your mobile app to share driver and trip data with your family or friends and, if possible, travel in groups or use the shared car option
  • When you’re alone, ride in the backseat and roll down the window enough to be able to grab the outside door handle if needed
  • Do not share any personal information including your age, if you’re traveling alone, or if the place they are dropping you off is your residence
  • If something doesn’t feel right, do not get in the car or get out of the car during the trip if you begin to feel uncomfortable

If you experience sexual assault or other harms in a rideshare, you are not to blame. While these tips are designed to help you stay safe, ultimately nothing you could have done prevents a bad actor from committing harm.

Uber and Lyft have the responsibility to thoroughly screen their drivers, including conducting careful background checks and responding immediately to complaints of harassment or untoward actions by removing the drivers from service.

What Should I do if I’ve Been Sexually Assaulted by my Uber or Lyft Driver?

Whether you experienced sexual harassment, abuse, or assault, there are several things you can do document the experience, get immediate medical help, and report to the platform and to law enforcement.

The most important thing is that you find immediate physical safety. This may mean calling 911, calling a friend or family member, or walking to somewhere safe.

Once you are physically safe, you can choose what to do next. You may be feeling overwhelmed, anxious, or flustered after getting to physical safety. It is very normal to feel this way and it’s important to understand your options. This is why it can be helpful to have a trusted person with you to help you understand your options and consider them with as clear of a mind as possible.

If you need assistance in this process, or have any questions about your rights and options, you can contact the sexual assault hotline RAINN or VictimConnect.

If you experienced physical abuse, you may choose to have a friend or family member take you to a nearby hospital. The hospital will provide different services based on the type of assault that happened. If you were sexually assaulted, you may choose to have a SAFE exam (also known as a rape kit) performed, although you do not have to. Only specific medical facilities have the trained staff to perform a SAFE, so you may want to call the National Sexual Assault Hotline to find a location near you that performs sexual assault forensic exams.

If you do want to file a report, try not to shower or change clothing, as much as you would like to. Having support at this time can be immensely helpful, but if you go alone, often hospitals will have a counselor, patient advocate or chaplain on staff who can lend support if you wish.

If you do not want to go to a hospital, you can also call your doctor and book an appointment, although they can not perform a SAFE exam and will likely not be able to get you in immediately. However, your general physician can provide mental health resources, documentation should you need it, and STD testing and treatments if needed.

The next choice is to report to the platform and/or law enforcement.

There is no right order in this process – as the ridesharing app may ask if you’ve reported to law enforcement and law enforcement may ask if you’ve reported to the ridesharing app. Many people will choose to report to the app first so they can take that information to law enforcement.

We recommend documenting your experience on paper or in a digital document prior to reporting to law enforcement or the platform. This can help ensure you capture everything you remember about the incident and help you not forget important details. Even if you don’t report immediately, we recommend writing down what happened as soon as you can do so.

If you report to law enforcement, you can choose to follow up with the ridesharing app with this information or they may reach out to request it.

Consulting with an attorney specializing in sexual assault cases is your next step if you choose to press civil charges against the rideshare company or the assailant.

How to Report Sexual Assault in a Rideshare

To report an incident with Uber, you can follow these steps:

  • Go to the Uber app.
  • Tap “Help”.
  • Tap “Help with a trip,”.
  • Pick the trip during which you were assaulted.
  • Tap “Report safety issue” on the “Trip details” page.
  • Then, tap “Report a safety incident involving a driver” and write your complaint. You can also tap “call support” at the bottom of the “Help” page to call Uber.

We recommend that you document the experience prior to filing a safety report with Uber. This will help ensure you include all relevant details and don’t forget important information. You can also choose to have a trusted person such as a family member or friend with you when you submit the report or call them to help be a witness and provide emotional support.

To make a report with Lyft, follow these steps:

  • Go to your Lyft app.
  • Tap the menu icon in the top left corner.
  • Tap “Ride history.”
  • Select the ride during which your sexual assault occurred.
  • Tap “Get Help” (on iOS devices) or “Request Review” (on Android devices). This will direct you to a chat with Lyft’s help bot, which will connect you with a representative.
  • Select “Report driver behavior.”
  • Select “Unsafe or Threatening Behavior.”

Lyft uses a chatbot service which can connect you to a customer support agent immediately. They may request more information over email, live chat, or phone. Remember to document the experience and all important details prior to contacting Lyft and submitting a report.

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