The number of sexual assault claims against Uber taxi drivers is increasing at an extremely worrying rate. And even worse, they don’t show any signs of slowing down, which makes for some serious concerns about the taxi app’s perfunctory safety standards.
Most recently, an Uber driver in Boston has been arrested and charged with sexual assault over the weekend. According to police reports the victim, a 30-year-old woman, was assaulted during a taxi journey home after a night out with a group of friends, who were all dropped off before her.
Once she was alone with the driver in the taxi, he reportedly “indecently touched her several times”. When she managed to escape, the woman immediately contacted police, who responded immediately. The driver, who has been named as 36-year-old Abderrahim Dakiri, was immediately identified and subsequently arrested on a charge of indecent assault and battery.
An Uber spokesperson has reportedly announced that Dakiri has been removed as a driver. But, extremely worryingly, they also confirmed that he had passed Uber’s safety background screening process in January.
Evidently, the screening is not thorough enough to prove effective, as this is the second attack in Boston since December, and the latest in a series of assaults worldwide in recent months. This is despite the app-makers having announced at the end of last year that they were carrying out a global review of their safety standards.
As well as the review, the company also released a handy checklist advising us on how not to get raped. On that brief list were some fairly patronising suggestions, including ‘make sure you’re in the right car’. Which is all well and good, but slightly irrelevant given Uber’s terrible history of hiring sexual predators. If their safety standards were comprehensive, perhaps they wouldn’t have to compile such a guide.
One improvement which has come out of the safety review, however, is the impending introduction of ‘panic buttons’ in Indian Uber taxis, which can only be a positive move. The car-hailing service will introduce a feature in the app as of Wednesday this week, which means users can alert local police in the event of an assault or an incident of harassment.
It’s also been reported that Uber will reveal a “safety net” feature, which allows users to automatically share information about their journey with up to five people, including their current location and intended destination.
We’re keeping our fingers crossed that the company will see a dramatic improvement in the safety of their passengers following these additions, and will begin to roll the extra features out elsewhere in the world, to ensure complete safety of their trusting passengers.