Ride-sharing company Lyft is reportedly putting together a council of experts to advise the company on various safety initiatives for passengers. The “Safety Advisory Council” is being formed in response to many problems between drivers and passengers, including the rape and sexual assault of women — 14 rape victims have sued Lyft claiming their drivers sexually assaulted them.
Reuters reports that Lyft’s new advisory council will include individuals from organizations such as the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN), and a public awareness group founded by former President Brack Obama in 2014 called “It’s On Us.”
Both Lyft and its main competitor Uber have faced criticism over passenger safety in the past and have even dealt with lawsuits as a result of incidents related to their services. In September of 2019, Breitbart News reported that Lyft was being sued by 14 women alleging that the company’s drivers sexually assaulted them. Breitbart News reporter David Ng writes:
Ridesharing company Lyft has been hit with a nationwide lawsuit from 14 women who claim they were sexually assaulted and raped by their drivers.
The suit, filed in San Francisco Superior Court, alleges that Lyft mishandled complaints of sexual assault, misconduct, and rape against drivers that occurred while the women were using its service. The anonymous plaintiffs said they reported their assaults to Lyft, but claim the company kept them in the dark despite assurances that their complaints would be treated seriously.
The San Francisco Chroniclereported that among the plaintiffs is a Los Angeles woman who alleges that she was riding home from a Halloween party in a Lyft car last year when the driver told her he loved her and took her phone away, then smoked drugs and drove her to a beach where he raped her.
In another alleged attack, a blind woman said her Lyft driver took her to a grocery store near her home in Alabama in 2018, after which he drove her home, forced his way into her residence and raped her.
“Since 2015, sexual predators driving for Lyft have continued to assault and rape Lyft’s female passengers,” attorneys for the plaintiffs wrote in their suit, according to the Chronicle. “Unfortunately, Lyft prioritizes profits over passenger safety.”
Lyft said in a statement to media outlets that it engages in “continuous criminal monitoring” of its drivers and that it plans to make “sexual harassment prevention training available to riders and drivers.”
Lyft said it has deactivated each of the accounts it was able to identify based on the named drivers in the lawsuit.
But the suit alleges the company “chooses to stonewall” law enforcement and has chosen to “hide and conceal” the size of its “sexual predator crisis.”
Lyft’s decision to form this new safety council comes shortly after the release of Uber’s first biennial U.S. Safety Report in December in which the company stated that it had received over 3,000 reports of sexual assault related to its 1.3 billion rides in the United States in 2018. Lyft’s new council is to be led by Eman Barhoumeh, the company’s vice president of safety and customer engagement.