That Lyft ride home may not be as safe as you think.
As first reported by Cathy Bussewitz in the New York Times last month, Lyft, the popular ride-share company is facing multiple allegations of sexual assaults by drivers.
Dozens of women have filed suit against Lyft over the last several months, claiming that they were sexually assaulted by Lyft drivers. Caroline Miller[pictured above]is one of the women making the allegations. Miller, 21, says that she was raped by a Lyft driver after celebrating her 21st birthday with friends. Miller and others are alleging that Lyft should have done more to protect its passenger by conducting more thorough background checks of drivers and utilizing in-car video capability to monitor activity in the car. Additionally, the women allege that Lyft does next to nothing when it comes to the investigation of assaults.
Lyft spokesman Ashley Adams says that multiple safety features have been incorporated recently, including more vigorous background checks and in-app emergency assistance.
Lyft has used media campaigns to promote safe rides home after a night out. One of their popular tag lines was: “Drink Up. We’re driving.” And Lyft promised in promotional materials that they have partnered up with certain bars “to get you home safe.”
Rachel Adams, an attorney who currently represents 100 clients suing Lyft noted “Most women saw the pink mustache and thought that’s a safe ride home….but [Lyft]didn’t do anything to actually make themselves themselves the safer ride home.”
The article noted that many attorneys suspect the dangers faced by Lyft riders may actually be worse than those faced by Uber riders, based on the number of clients they represent, the size of the company and the severity of the incident.
Lyft insists that any driver involved in any incident is immediately deactivated and not allowed to drive until the issue has been resolved. Lyft also says it shares information about drivers who have been deactivated. Additionally, Lyft maintains its background check protocol is comprehensive.
Rosalind Chow, a professor of organization behavior and theory at Carnegie Mellon University doesn’t think the rash of sexual assault allegations against Lyft will affect the company in any meaningful way and noted, “Sadly, I don’t think it will have much of an impact.”