Uber has simplified public transport and made it convenient for many people to get around in 300 cities worldwide. While the business has thrived, however, one standing criticism was the number of sexual assault claims against Uber drivers.
Uber’s leaked internal data shows that complaint tickets containing the words “sexual assault” total to 6,160, while those that contain “rape” total 5,827 individual tickets. This is a far cry from the “five claims of rape and “fewer than” 170 claims of sexual assault” that the company has previously acknowledged.
While the issue has not been effectively addressed by the company at the moment, a new service may soon provide a solution and a better alternative for female passengers.
Chariot for Women, a cab service similar to Uber but one that attempts to give women more peace of mind, is set to launch on April 19.
The riding service features only female drivers and only allows women (and males under age 13) to request rides.
Michael Pelletz, a former Uber driver, created the app after realizing several real life encounters made him feeling unsafe behind the wheel.
On the Chariot for Women website, he recalled a particularly scary ride, when a strange passenger climbed into the back seat of his car. The rider reportedly became agitated and appeared to be reaching for something concealed in his pocket. Pelletz instinctively pulled over and notified the authorities.
“What if I was a woman?” Pelletz recalled. “How would a woman handle that situation, especially when I was so nervous myself?”
That realization gave birth to Chariot for Women, an idea he hopes will make a difference on women’s safety on the road.
Applicant drivers for Chariot for Women’s all-female fleet are required to undergo a thorough background check before being accepted to the team. Users of the service will be able to see a picture of their driver when hailing a ride, just like in Uber. Other details such as the car’s make and license plate number will be made available as well.
As added security, a “safe word” will be sent to the passenger and the ride can begin only if the driver can provide the right word.
Kelly Pelletz, president of Chariot for Women and also Michael’s wife, came up with the idea to donate 2 percent of all fare to charities for women. Passengers will be able to choose from 10 pre-selected charities where the 2 percent donation will go. The chosen charity will immediately have the money deposited into their bank accounts.