By on January 15, 2020

At the start of this month, Uber released a safety report in a bid to address concerns surrounding rider welfare. Not to be outdone, its main competitor also took steps to convince the masses that it’s also doing everything within its power to keep customers safe.

Lyft is forming a council of experts to assist the ride-hailing company in revising safety initiatives for riders and drivers. The group will include representatives from the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN), It’s On Us, the National Sheriffs’ Association, the National Association of Women Law Enforcement Executives, and the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives. As with Uber’s report, Lyft is focused on incidents of sexual assault — and blaming society for any problems it may have. 

“As the Lyft platform grows, we are seeing issues that are endemic in our society manifest on our platform and have an opportunity to address them. Issues that are so nuanced, complex and widespread in our society require sophisticated solutions that go beyond standard product design,” said Lyft’s VP of Safety and Customer Engagement, Eman Barhoumeh (who will be heading the council.

“To identify these solutions, and ensure they are implemented thoughtfully, we must consider the perspectives of a diverse set of subject matter experts. I so appreciate all our Safety Advisory Council members who have generously offered their time and commitment to this important shared endeavor.”

Like the Uber release, Lyft’s response seems somewhat unnecessary. Yet both businesses have taken hits in the media over mostly isolated — yet still horrifying — incidents of sexual assault. Lyft was the subject of two lawsuits in late 2019 after over two dozen women accused it of not taking adequate steps to protect riders.

In truth, both companies have fairly comprehensive methods of reporting driver misconduct already. They’ve also improved the screening process for drivers and ways for customers to verify who is behind the wheel. In September, Lyft announced a partnership with RAINN to ensure it was effective in educating itself about how best protect against “bad actors.” Still, neither company seems less safe than any other transport service on the market.

It’s also not clear what tangible measures the new council is supposed to take. If rape and murder really is endemic to the locations in which riders find themselves hailing, reducing the number of incidents seems like a lot to ask for. But it makes for good PR and is worth a shot.


[Image: Jonathan Weiss/Shutterstock]

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