Lyft safety report: More than 4,100 sexual assault claims filed over 3-year span

Lyft says it received more than 4,100 reports of sexual assault over a period of three years, according to a company safety report published on Oct. 22. 

The San Francisco-based ride-sharing app released its first-ever "Community Safety Report" Thursday which detailed 4,158 reports of sexual assault that occurred during rides from 2017 through 2019. 

"Put simply, even one of these incidents is too many. That is what drives our relentless work to continuously improve safety for riders and drivers," the report read. 

According to the report, 1,807 sexual assaults were reported during Lyft rides in 2019 alone, a 64% increase from 2017.

Lyft released data on other incidents, including deaths, that occurred during motor vehicle collisions as well as incidents of assault. 

In 2019, four people were killed during physical assaults and 49 people were killed during motor vehicle accidents involving Lyfts, the company said. 

"From 2017 to 2019, over 99% of trips occurred without any reported safety incident," Lyft said in its report. 

Despite the concerning data, Lyft’s head of policy development and research said serious safety incidents are rare. 

"Safety incidents on Lyft are statistically very rare. The type of safety incidents detailed in this report occurred on 0.0002% of rides, and well over 99% of all rides occur without any safety report at all," Jennifer Brandenburger said in a company blog post on Thursday. 

"While safety incidents on our platform are incredibly rare, we realize that even one is too many," Brandenburger said. "Behind every report is a real person and real experience."

In March, both Uber and Lyft, teamed up to create a database of drivers ousted from their ride-hailing services for complaints about sexual assault and other crimes that have raised passenger safety concerns for years.

The new safeguard, dubbed the "sharing safety program," is overseen by HireRight, a specialist in background checks. The use of a third party is aimed at addressing potential legal concerns about companies, including competitors such as Uber and Lyft, having access to information to each other’s personnel matters.

"Lyft and Uber are competitors in a whole lot of ways, but on this issue of safety, we completely agree that folks should be safe no matter what platform they choose," Tony West, Uber’s chief legal officer, told the Associated Press. He spoke in an interview that also included Brandenburger, Lyft’s head of policy development.

This safety program follows a separate safety report by Uber which revealed similar numbers regarding sexual assaults that occurred during its rides. 

In December 2019, Uber released a long-anticipated safety report, which revealed more than 3,000 sexual assaults were reported during its U.S. rides in 2018.

After Uber detailed past abuses on its service in its report, California’s Public Utilities Commission sought the victims’ names and contact numbers. After Uber rebuffed the request to protect the victims’ privacy, the agency slapped the company with a $59 million fine. The dispute is now in the appeals process.

Since that revelation, San Francisco-based Uber and Lyft have been working to navigate through antitrust and privacy concerns to create a way to flag drivers who have engaged in violent or other abhorrent behavior that culminated in them being booted off their services.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.