Is Rideshare Safety for Women Being Ignored?

The National Council For Home Safety and Security - What women are experiencing during ridesAs far back as 2014, reports have surfaced about a range of safety issues women were experiencing driving or riding with Lyft. Last week, NBC News reported that for women riders, “passengers say Lyft isn’t doing enough to monitor drivers.” The article also reports that in cases where the Lyft driver was accused of groping someone or assaulting someone, and they weren’t removed as drivers from the platform “because they have otherwise good ratings.”

Lyft has continued to have its reputation tarnished over the past few months–from a rash of lawsuits being filed by women who claim they were sexually assaulted by drivers, to social media complaints by women on Lyft’s Twitter feed made viral by filmmaker Judd Apatow, to the reports that Chicago’s $10,00 fine levied against Lyft for failing to report violent drivers.

Add complaints by Lyft’s women drivers regarding on-job harassment where they feel Lyft “isn’t helpful in investigating,” and it’s enough to make some women quit ridesharing.

A recent Business Insider article describes Jess, a driver for Lyft in Portland, who said she’s “been propositioned, assaulted, and even involved in a car chase.” Business Insider further reports that many of the contractors who spoke to BI wish the companies would do more to protect them. For instance, there is no ID verification for riders like there is for drivers or even a requirement that they add a photo.

With ridesharing revenue expected to grow at an annual rate of 11.0%, resulting in more people using the platforms, news of women’s safety using Lyft can quickly go viral on social media platforms. But Lyft and Uber’s ride safety issues doesn’t mean that women shouldn’t become drivers or passengers.

A big part of the problem is that people are not able to explicitly request female drivers or passengers with Lyft and Uber.

Women passengers and drivers both say they feel safer ride-sharing when they are lucky enough to get a female driver or rider. However, both Lyft and Uber are resistant to changing their apps to accommodate gender preference requests. Some analysts state this may be due to fear of discrimination lawsuits while others believe the tech companies don’t want to change their apps.

Whatever the reason, it’s clear there can be security risks for women working for and using stranger ride-sharing platforms.

The National Council For Home Safety and Security conducted a survey of women across the U.S. about ride-hailing companies. NCHS wanted to know about women’s experiences–good and bad–while ridesharing. The survey also asked if safety was a factor in their decision to use Uber or Lyft and if they took any precautions.

Nearly 45 percent of the respondents stated that they prefer female drivers.

Only nine percent wanted male drivers, and 46 percent had no gender preference. Twenty-three percent of the women surveyed said they’ve reported an uncomfortable encounter with an Uber driver while 15 percent of the women polled said the same thing about Lyft. Just under eight percent reported they had to get the police involved over a Lyft driver’s behavior. (Source: The National Council For Home Safety and Security)

NCHS found the most overwhelming response out of all of the survey questions came down to one key factor, the driver’s gender.

Women Driving Women founder, Renee Cooper, started her rideshare company after her experiences with Lyft and Uber both as a rider and a driver.

Renee saw the need for safer ridesharing opportunities for women. As a driver and as a passenger, Renee thought about personal safety. For this reason, Women Driving Women conducts a stringent background check of all potential WDW drivers. If accepted, Renee personally trains all WDW drivers to make sure passengers will be comfortable. Each driver is then assigned as a regular driver for a specific passenger. Renee also requires WDW passengers to sit in the front seat of the vehicles.

“Driver/passenger and senior safety is everything to me,” says Renee.

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