Local Uber driver speaks out after company releases safety report

‘Don’t be naïve to the fact that bad things happen to good people.’

ROANOKE, Va. – In Erik Alton’s six months driving for Uber in Roanoke, he’s only had one close call.

“A tractor-trailer turned left from the right lane in front of me on 220," Alton said.

He said that he never feels unsafe, but knows that’s not the case for everyone.

“I honestly do not worry about violence," Alton said. ”Everybody has the right to do what they want and you should be safe doing what you want to do. But that’s not the world we live in."

On Thursday, Uber released its U.S. safety report for 2017 and 2018.

According to the report, there were nearly 6,000 reported sexual assaults that happened during or after a ride, including unwanted kissing, touching, rape and attempted rape.

“That’s messed up," Alton said.

Passengers are not the only victims. The report said that riders committed 45% of those assaults. Though of the 464 alleged rapes, 92% of the victims were riders.

In response to those safety concerns, Uber has introduced new safety features, including the ability to share a trip with loved ones who can follow your location on a map in real time. The company also introduced an in-app emergency button.

“So if you send a distress signal, Uber knows where you are," Alton said.

In the report, Uber emphasized that 99.9% of rides occur without any safety incident.

Alton said it’s important to trust your gut and be aware.

“Do whatever you feel like you need to do to feel safe," Alton said. "Just pay attention and don’t be naïve to the fact that bad things happen to good people.”

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