Female drivers for Uber and Lyft say sexual harassment is the norm — and getting help from the companies isn't easy

Jeffrey Greenberg/Universal Images Group via Getty Images
  • Female drivers for Uber and Lyft say lewd comments from passengers happen regularly.
  • Speaking to The Guardian, many women said they feel the companies often aren’t helpful in investigating incidents.
  • In statements to Business Insider, both companies affirmed their commitments to safety, and noted many of the offending riders reported by the paper have been kicked off the platforms.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

For female Uber and Lyft drivers, every fare is a possible nightmare.

And when the unthinkable happens, many women say it’s difficult to get the ride-hailing companies to hold up their side of the partnership.

The Guardian on Wednesday reported that many female drivers have trouble getting in touch with Uber or Lyft after an incident. In one case, a woman said it took five days for someone from Lyft’s critical response safety line to get in touch with her.

Another said a passenger was arrested after she reported an assault that included hair-pulling and spitting. Uber, meanwhile, sent only an automated email with no follow-up, she said.

It would be impossible to capture the experience of every driver on Uber and Lyft’s massive platform, given the total number of contractors is now more than a million. However, the drivers’ comments to The Guardian echo many of the complaints Business Insider has heard from female drivers in the recent months.

Jenny, a driver for Uber in Northern New Jersey who asked that we omit her last name for privacy reasons, says she avoids driving at night, because she feels safer in the daylight hours.

“I get rude comments from men in the day, so I don’t even want to know what it would be like at night,” she said in an interview. “My mother really doesn’t like that I drive for Uber.”

Jess, a driver for Lyft in Portland, said she’s “been propositioned, assaulted, and even involved in a car chase.”

Many of the contractors who spoke to Business Insider 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.

“I’ve been attacked three times,” Michael Pu, a driver for both Uber and Lyft in Washington DC, said in a recent interview. “Each time I filed a police report, but never felt like Uber or Lyft really investigated the incidents.”

To their credit, both Uber and Lyft have 24/7 emergency centres where staff investigate incidents reported by both drivers and riders. Both companies have also integrated 911 buttons into their apps.

In a statement, an Uber spokesperson said its deeply committed to safety, and highlighted many of the features its launched in recent months:

Uber is deeply committed to safety and has a number of safety features in place, including an emergency button with 911 integration technology, trip sharing feature, a critical safety response line, and 24/7 phone support for drivers. There’s nothing more important than the safety of the people we serve

A Lyft spokesperson echoed that sentiment, sending the following statement:

Safety is fundamental to Lyft. Since day one, we have worked hard to design policies and features that protect both drivers and riders, including Community Guidelines, a two-way rating system, a dedicated Trust & Safety team and in-app emergency assistance. There is no place in the Lyft community for harassment or violence of any kind.


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