At least 7 Utah Lyft riders victims of sexual assault; company reports more than 4,000 cases

Local News

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – More than 4,000 Lyft passengers reported sexual abuse by drivers, according to a report the ride-hailing company released.

At least seven of those victims are in Utah, according to an attorney who represents roughly 1,000 victims nationwide.

“We get new cases every day,” said attorney Angela Nehmens, who calls the self-released report from Lyft “lip service.”

Lyft has failed to implement the kind of safety measures — like automatic and mandatory video or audio recordings at the start of every ride — that Nehmens says are necessary.

The report, with statistics from 2017 to 2019, comes after Uber released a similar report in 2019.

According to Lyft, passengers reported 4,158 assaults, 360 cases of rape, and 10 deaths resulting from physical assaults.

“No matter where you are, whether you’re in Utah or California, this is a risk that everyone incurs,” said Nehmens.

“This is a trauma that they’re going to have to live with for the rest of their lives, it didn’t end when they got out of the car,” added Nehmens.

She says her best advice is never to enter a Lyft ride by yourself — and be sure to share your ride progress with someone you know.

Salt Lake City Police Detective Marie Stewart told ABC4 that one important step is to examine the license plate of the vehicle arriving to pick you up.

“If your driver deviates from the route, say something. Let him know — him or her — know that the route is deviated. And get on the phone with your friend and loved one,” said Stewart.

The bottom line? Stay engaged, she says — and trust your gut.

In a blog post, Lyft outlined some of the findings and outlined some of the measures they’ve taken to improve safety.

“While safety incidents on our platform are incredibly rare, we realize that even one is too many. Behind every report is a real person and real experience, and our goal is to make each Lyft ride as safe as we possibly can,” wrote Jennifer Brandenburger, Head of Policy Development and Research at Lyft.

You can read the summary here, which includes some of the safety improvements they’ve implemented:

  • We screen everyone who drives with Lyft before they give a single ride. We require initial and annual background checks, continuous criminal and driving record monitoring, as well as community safety education created in consultation with RAINN, North America’s largest anti-sexual violence organization. 
  • We’ve developed a series of in-app safety features that allow riders and drivers to share their location with family and friends, connect directly with Lyft Support, and quickly and easily access emergency assistance from the Lyft app. 
  • Our Safety team is available 24/7 so riders and drivers can always reach a live person if they have concerns or feel unsafe, and so we can take action to help keep our community safe. 

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