Here's Uber's New PSA About How Safe They Are

Uber is once again facing some questions about its safety standards, after a Philadelphia woman told police she was raped and kidnapped by an UberX driver. The company didn't learn about the rape until 40 days later, when a reporter from Philadelphia magazine told them about it.

The new video features Uber riders talking about their feelings of safety and security when using the ridesharing app: two out of three of them are woman, and the video makes sure to highlight that the company does background checks and "extensive screening" of its drivers. An email titled "Safety by Design" is being sent out to Uber users with the same information, including a line about how Uber "prohibits drug or alcohol offenses, severe traffic violations, and sexual offenses."

Uber Head of Global Safety, Phillip Carednas, also published a safety update on the company's blog. It says, again, that Uber is totally safe, but adds that the company has created Incident Response Teams to respond to serious safety concerns. Cardenas also points to the company's Code of Conduct. The closest is gets to addressing sexual assault is this tidbit:

No aggressive behavior

It is disrespectful to make derogatory remarks about a person or group. Furthermore, commenting on appearance, asking overly personal questions and making unwanted physical contact are all inappropriate. We encourage you be mindful of other users' privacy and personal space. Violence of any kind will not be tolerated.

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In an emergency, the Code of Conduct adds, Uber riders should call 911. "Once all parties are safe and the situation has been handled by the authorities, please then notify Uber," it adds. The company says it's also creating a new advisory board to review its safety practices.


Contact the author at anna.merlan@jezebel.com.
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DISCUSSION

I'm an actual Uber-X driver, and as such, I can probably shed a great deal of light on the subject. But since my view of the facts doesn't mesh well with the pre-determined Jezebel conclusions, I know it's likely that my post will remain grey-ed out—-since that's what happened last time I posted here on this subject. So I don't know why I bother trying to talk to people who already have their mind made up. But the facts are these:

Uber is very safe. Safer than cabs, by far. Below are the reasons that I know that the Philly case is probably bogus:

1. Uber does a background check on all drivers, and any history of being a sex offender will disqualify an applicant. So this would have had to be his first offense.

2. Common-sense wise, raping an Uber Passenger (or "Pax", in our lingo), is the streetsmart equivalent of car-jacking a police car. The likelihood of getting caught is identical. Because...

3. Uber is the ultimate Big Brother. Their GPS is as good as anybody's, and their servers remember everywhere you go, forever.

4. Your car, to qualify as an Uber-mobile, has to be an '05 or better. In other words, the doors don't lock from the inside. Someone being driven against their will could just simply get out at the next stoplight and walk away. Nobody gets driven around for 2 hours by a driver who "refuses to let them out of the car." And you all may think it's "Victim Blaming" for police to ask the lady "why didn't you just get out of the car the first time he stopped?" But that's what's gonna crack this case. Because she's gonna say "he never stopped, he never even slowed down". But the time-stamped GPS is going to prove otherwise.

5. She's got a phone. In her hand. What's to keep her from turning down the volume all the way, dialing 911, and saying things like "I sure wish you'd stop raping me in this parking lot on 12th and Main in downtown Philly, you large Hispanic male with the Liberty Bell tattoo on your right arm..."

6. The driver would have no way of knowing when a PING for another fare would come in. Or where. What if somebody 2 minutes away needs a ride, and he's got his pants around his ankles and a hysterical, naked woman in his backseat? Talk about Coitus Interuptus! From a logistical standpoint, Rape and Uber just don't mix.

7. "Uber-X" means it's his own car. A nice car. Late model, Clean, in good condition. I assure you that we don't even want OUR OWN bodily fluids soaking into the seats; much less the possible blood, sweat, urine and vomit of a rape victim. And do you know how the cops are gonna check that seat for DNA? It's gonna involve a box-cutter, and not so much as an apology, even if they are wrong.

8. Uber drivers are financially driven. No time for hanky-panky, when there are fares to be had. What if he missed a 40 mile ride through downtown, from a surge area, from a big-tipper?

9. This may sound trivial. But would he risk being down-rated? Even if he were a very perceptive predator, and something about her told him that she wasn't the type to report being raped, it's very unlikely that she'd rate him 5-stars after a vicious sexual assault. And Uber driver's NEED 5-star ratings. We live off them. Uber's rating system is extremely strict. Every Uber driver on the road has an average rating higher than 4 stars. If you give an Uber driver a 4-star rating, you just punished him (It's the equivalent of not tipping. Which you also should not, not do.) 3-stars, and he must have been awful. 2-stars means he got in an accident, and you were injured. THIS lady, if she were raped, might even give him a <gasp!> 1-star. No self-respecting Uber driver would dare risk such a low rating.

10. Know what the sole penalty is for falsely accusing an Uber driver of rape? He gets to down-rate her, and tell his Uber-friends to avoid her. Which, in a way, kind of is appropriate justice: She'll be stuck taking Taxicabs for the rest of her life.

We keep it in our pants, and leave all the raping (actual, and financial), to the corrupt hacks in their smelly, old, beat-up cabs.