Ride hailing and sharing service Uber has taken many public hits about its passenger safety record, and rightfully so, given some of the high-profile problems and stories, like the alleged rape of a passenger by a driver in India, or the woman in Boston police say was "indecently assaulted" by her Uber driver. Even if the percentage of issues is tiny, if you want to reinvent a category of business, you'd better be squeaky clean.
Not only will the public judge you harshly, but you open the door to possible PR attacks by competitors. The Taxicab, Limousine & Paratransit Association, a non-profit trade group for the "private passenger transportation industry" has an ongoing PR campaign targeting, in part, safety of Uber, Lyft, and others. The group regularly circulates press releases about individual incidents that are certainly disconcerting.
But without being a booster of the panoply of Internet ride companies, it is possible to consider whether there are many reports of alleged sexual assault by taxi or limo drivers who work for traditional companies in the industry. Some research shows that there are--and is a lesson on how a newer company can fight back in a way that doesn't involve reported plans to dig up dirt on critics. Here is a sampling from a web search over the last month:
- A Kalamazoo, Michigan cab driver was found guilty of 15 felony counts in the alleged rape at gunpoint of a female customer.
- In Calgary, Alberta, Canada, a taxi driver was charged with sexually assaulting a female passenger.
- Also in Canada, a Guelph cab driver faces two sexual assault counts for two alleged incidents within days of each other.
- A Bristol cab driver in the U.K. was convicted of sexual assault.
- A former Chicago cab driver was convicted of the 2012 reported attempted robbery and "brutal sexual assault" of a woman that he followed while on duty.
Again, that is a quick search of one month's accounts. Before attempting to attack a competitor, it behooves a company, group, or industry to be sure that it isn't at least as vulnerable, if not more so. And before getting scared off from a service or business, be sure your options are true alternatives and not potentially more of the same.