Despite implementing a 'safe rides fee' earlier this year, stories about Uber passengers experiencing anything but safe rides continue to pop up.
The latest comes from Washington DC, where a 32-year-old Uber driver has been charged with second degree sexual abuse after a passenger claimed that he molested her in the back of his car this past Sunday.
From Washington City Paper:
In the affadavit, the woman says she passed out in the cab and that when she woke, the driver was rubbing her breasts. She then fell back asleep, according to court documents, and woke up again to the sound of car doors locking. The cab had stopped and the driver was feeling her breasts and pulling down her underwear down to her knees. She says she asked the driver to be let out of the vehicle, but he refused and at one point asked if he could go back to her hotel with her. In a follow-up interview with authorities, she said Chakari briefly penetrated her with his finger or another thin object.
Luckily, the woman somehow managed to send out a couple of texts to a friend (who had called the ride for her on his account). He was able to contact the driver, which appears to have ended the attack.
Uber says the driver has been suspended and they are cooperating fully with the investigation.
This isn’t the first case of driver impropriety that's hit Uber recently. In July, an Uber driver took riders on a high-speed chase, again in DC. Then in June, an Uber driver reportedly kidnapped a drunk woman and took her to a motel, where he slept with her in the room and “fondled her over her clothes and suggested he wanted to have sex, but didn’t force it.” Another Uber driver was accused of rape in Washington DC, but that case has since been dropped. In February, a woman claimed she was briefly kidnapped by an Uber driver over a fare dispute.
Rides-sharing, on-demand car services – or whatever you want to call them – have a lot of potential and are clearly not going anywhere in the foreseeable future. But safety is a huge concern – especially for the most high-profile company in this field. Every time an Uber passenger is sexually assaulted, taken on a cop-evading joyride, or simply made to feel uncomfortable, we all should ask ourselves – exactly who's car are we getting into?
Uber, like Lyft and similar services, assure us that safety is of the utmost priority. But things like this keep happening. And for those who have fell victim to a predatory or off-their-rocker driver, best intentions aren't really enough when it comes to safety.
Then again, it's not like this kind of thing is limited to Uber. Regular old taxi drivers don't exactly have a clean sheet in this department. I think the emphasis on companies like Uber springs from the fact that Uber's whole schtick is that it's a cut above taking a Taxi. Time to put up or shut up, I'd say.
Image via Uber, Facebook