Lyft is requiring safety education courses for its drivers after a spate of sexual assaults

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Lyft on Tuesday announced three new safety initiatives following a string of scary incidents and a lawsuit from victims last week.

Beginning this fall, all drivers on the app – both new hires and existing workers – will be required to complete a “community safety education” program that the company is developing through a partnership with RAINN, the United States’ largest sexual violence prevention organization.

Lyft safety checks

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Lyft

Other announcements include a long-awaited “911 button” inside the app that’s now live nationwide and a tool that alerts Lyft safety agents if a ride appears to be going off-course or is otherwise delayed.

Uber, Lyft’s biggest competitor launched a panic button in the United States in 2018.

“We don’t take lightly any instances where someone’s safety is compromised, especially in the rideshare industry, including the allegations of assault in the news last week,” founder John Zimmer said in a blog post.

“The reality is that certain populations carry a disproportionate burden simply trying to get to work or back home after a night out – in the U.S., one in six women will face some form of sexual violence in their lives. The onus is on all of us to learn from any incident, whether it occurs on our platform or not, and then work to help prevent them.”

Last week, 14 women filed a lawsuit against Lyft, alleging that the company failed to address a “sexual predator crisis” among its drivers, including a delay in rolling out the direct-to-911 button. Their stories follow countless others by women who have experienced attacks and other incidents inside ride-hailing vehicles, which are by no means limited to Lyft.

Tuesday’s announcements add to previous safety features that have been part of Lyft’s app for some time, like continuous criminal background checks that flag any drivers who may turn up in databases following their initial hiring, and location sharing.

“Bottom line: Safety must be an ongoing focus for everyone in transportation, and it’s our responsibility to continue raising the bar,” Zimmer said, adding that “our work on safety is never done.”

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