Many of us give little thought to rideshare drivers and services. They are convenient and frequently used, especially during holidays like New Year’s Eve. Sadly, these drivers are facing levels of violence that would shock their customers. Check out our collection of Uber articles for further information on the company if you’re unfamiliar with modern rideshare programs, including the most insane Uber incidents and accidents of the past.
Ohio Lyft driver victim of violent Rideshare attack
It should have been a quiet shift for Cleveland Lyft driver Cynthia Norman as she cruised through a late evening over deserted, snowy streets this past January. Mrs. Norman was working that night while her husband was ill in the hospital. Like many Lyft and Uber drivers, drivers choose hours during flexible times and pick up extra shifts during financial crunches. She was a seasoned driver with some street smarts and could recognize red flags with passengers. She knew to be cautious of the two men who requested a ride from her for a short distance, disguised themselves, and attempted to break company policy by having one of them occupy the front seat of the vehicle.
The short distance and any of these red flags in and of themselves made her suspicious, but no one can predict a criminal attack. She sensed it coming, but all the signs didn’t necessarily mean that the potential passengers were a threat. What if she were making the wrong assumptions about them? People tend to be altruistic in nature, which means not jumping to judgment and give people the benefit of the doubt.
Unfortunately, Cynthia Norman’s gut instinct was correct. She was carjacked and brutally punched in the face. According to The Markup, “Norman is just one of at least 124 ride-hail and delivery drivers who’ve been carjacked in the U.S. over the last year.”
Violent trend continues with Miami Uber attack
In August, Liudmila Valladares of Miami was an Uber driver who experienced a similar crime. On that day, the petite driver picked up 19-year-old Edward Milo at his home, who was meeting another friend. Nothing would have tipped off Valladares that the young man had criminal intent. He wanted to pick up a second friend. Once the two young men were in the vehicle, they told her they had to pick up another friend from the hospital.
However, once Valladares tried to exit the hospital, the trouble began, and the man pummeled her with punches. The Local 10 News grimly reported that “Milo then removed Valladeres’ seatbelt and pushed her out of her vehicle while the SUV was still in motion.”
The attack on Valladares confirmed that criminals are using rideshare services to target drivers that are often vulnerable, such as retirees who drive for extra income. In Liudmila Valladares’ case, she was a vulnerable target. The Atlanta Police Department commented to Business Insider that, “Criminals are purchasing rideshare services such as Uber or Lyft and using it as an opportunity to victimize the drivers by stealing their vehicles.”
As more of these shocking incidents occur, it has prompted an outcry from the public to protect the drivers. These incidents involved vulnerable women, but many more cases also involved targeting vulnerable immigrants and aging drivers.
Lyft and Uber prompted to improve driver safety
After public backlash, Lyft and Uber have been called upon to improve the safety of drivers, especially women. The company has developed many proactive approaches aimed at preventing harm to its drivers. Uber offers training material for female drivers to help prepare them for potential danger. Additionally, there is a 24/7 support line to address safety concerns.
Lastly, Uber no longer requires arbitration, which means that drivers who are victimized and settle with the company can talk about it, so they don’t “prevent survivors from speaking out about their experience.”