Why Cabs Are Becoming Unsafe for Women

Getting home safely at night meant relying on a friend for a ride or nervously hailing a cab, clutching your keys for protection. Ride-hailing apps entered the scene with promises of enhanced safety – the ability to track your ride, share trip details, and seemingly vet drivers. But have they truly made transportation safer for women?

The disturbing reality is that women continue to face harassment and assault at the hands of ride-hailing drivers. Uber’s 2020 records revealed a shocking 141 rape reports on their platform. These reports expose a dark pattern of misconduct ranging from inappropriate comments to severe acts of sexual violence.  

While ride-hailing services offer convenience, they still need to solve the problem of safe transportation for women. This blog post examines the risks and the flaws that allow predators to slip through the system and provides tips to help you prioritize your safety.

Understanding the Problem by Analyzing Data

The numbers associated with ride-hailing should be a wake-up call. Uber’s safety reports reveal a chilling 2,847 cases of sexual violence in 2019 and 2020, covering a range of offenses from five different categories. This includes kissing a non-sexual body part, kissing a sexual body part, touching a sexual body part, attempted sexual penetration, and sexual penetration. 

Lyft’s figures from 2017 to 2019 are equally bleak, with 4,158 reported sexual assaults categorized similar to those in the Uber case. Keep in mind that experts believe this is just a fraction of the actual number, as many victims never report these crimes out of fear or shame.

We’re not dealing with a few isolated incidents. Recent lawsuits, like the one against Uber, allege a systemic problem. The Uber sexual assault lawsuit claims the company knew about driver assaults as early as 2014 yet chose to prioritize growth over safety, allowing predators to continue targeting passengers.

The scariest part is that despite all the background checks and in-app safety features, these companies can’t seem to prevent thousands of harmful incidents. It’s easy to become numb to statistics, but it’s important to remember that behind each number is a person whose life has been forever impacted. In such distressing situations, seeking the help of sexual offence lawyers in Calgary can be crucial. These specialized lawyers can provide the necessary legal support and guidance to victims, helping them navigate the complex legal system and ensuring their rights are protected. This professional assistance can make a significant difference in the pursuit of justice and healing.

Assessing Safety Issues in a Potentially Flawed System

In-app panic buttons and ride-tracking features provide a false sense of security. The hard truth is that background checks can fail, and a seemingly safe ride can become dangerous within seconds. Too many riders discover that these companies are skilled at marketing the idea of safety but fail to deliver on that promise.

Even worse, their response to reported assaults can be infuriating. Survivors often face victim-blaming (“What were you wearing?”), inadequate support, and the chilling reality that drivers accused of severe offenses may remain on the platform. This sends a horrifying message that profits are prioritized over the safety of passengers.

Understandably, the lack of safety within ride-hailing has led some to demand drastic changes. This is where controversial services like Chariot for Women gain support. The concept of women-only drivers and riders appeals to those desperately seeking a safer alternative. However, it raises questions about fairness and whether it addresses the core issue.

Should women have to segregate themselves to feel safe? The onus for change shouldn’t fall on the victims. Companies must be held accountable for implementing rigorous screening, providing survivor-centered support, and taking immediate action against drivers accused of assault. Without these systemic changes, we’re treating a symptom, not the disease.

Practical Strategies for Taking Control

It’s easy to feel helpless after reading all this. But we don’t have to accept this risk as the price of getting around. Here are some ways to take back control of your safety:

  • Trust your gut: If something feels off, don’t hesitate to cancel the ride, even if it means a slight delay. Your intuition is powerful.
  • Share your ride details: Let a friend or family member track your ride. Send them the driver’s name, car details, and route.
  • Stay alert: Avoid being engrossed in your phone. Be aware of your surroundings, especially at night.
  • Be ready to act: Speak up firmly if a driver makes you uncomfortable. If things escalate, don’t hesitate to use the app’s safety features or call the police.

While Uber’s partnership with RAINN for sexual assault education requirements was a positive step, it’s far from enough. Support organizations and advocates continue to push for systemic change, including stricter background checks, transparent reporting of assault data, and real consequences for drivers who violate passengers. 

These measures are essential to hold companies accountable and create a safer environment for women using ride-hailing services. 

Check for ongoing lawsuits or legislative efforts in your area that aim to hold ride-hailing companies accountable. As per TorHoerman Law, the lawsuits are in their early stages, and lawyers are helping survivors file claims. The Uber Technologies, Passenger Sexual Assault Litigation MDL No. 3084 was centralized in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California in October 2023.


Why Are There Few Female Taxi Drivers?

Few female taxi drivers exist due to a combination of factors. Safety concerns are significant, as the job can involve picking up strangers alone, often at night. Additionally, societal perceptions about “suitable” jobs for women and a lack of support and encouragement for women entering the industry all play a role.

Why Are Women More Likely to Be Sexually Harassed?

Taxis can be isolated spaces with limited escape for passengers. Women riders may be perceived as vulnerable by perpetrators. Additionally, social norms that discourage women from complaining about harassment can make it go unreported.

Where Is the Safest Place to Sit In a Taxi Alone?

The back seat is the safest place to sit in a taxi when traveling alone, ideally behind the driver. This position provides the most significant distance from the driver and offers a clear view of their actions. It also limits potential unwanted advances or opportunities for assault from the driver.

What Problems Do Taxi Drivers Face?

Taxi drivers face a range of challenges. These include potential safety risks from robbery or difficult passengers, long and irregular work hours, vehicle maintenance costs, and the physically demanding nature of the job, which can lead to health problems. Additionally, fluctuating income creates challenges with financial stability.

While Uber claims a 38% decrease in reported sexual assaults from 2019 to 2020, it’s important to remember that rideshare usage also significantly declined due to the COVID-19 pandemic at that time. The disturbing reality is that far too many women still experience harassment and assault when they should have a safe way to get home. This cannot be the norm.

Let’s channel our anger and frustration into driving positive change. Learn about ride-hailing safety features, put your safety first, and don’t hesitate to speak up against bad behavior. Support organizations are fighting for stricter regulations and survivor-centered support within the industry.

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