Uber dangers: women in Eastern Iowa report harassment with Uber drivers

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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG-TV9) - After a long night out, getting a ride home is now easier than ever, with ride-sharing companies, but when you get in that car, how can you be sure it's safe?

Women in Eastern Iowa are reporting issues with their Uber drivers using the app to make sexual advances.

Megan Fuller had used Uber many times without an issue. Then she says one driver did something unusual.

"I got on my Uber app and ordered an Uber he called telling me was in the parking lot. I go outside to get in his car, opened the back door and he stops me and says no, no, no come up front,” Fuller said.

Against her better judgement she got into the front and that's when things got creepy.

"He started asking me out to dinner and he started touching my leg several times,” Fuller said.

The harassment didn't stop with the ride.

"Within like seconds of walking in the door I got a text from him saying 'hey this is your Uber driver if you're interested in dinner give me a call' and left me his number," Fuller said.

She posted about her experience on her Facebook page and her friends urged her to report the driver. She did and he was suspended.

"Within like a few hours I had the Uber investigation team calling me asking for the details and things like that,” Fuller said.

Another Cedar Rapids woman who didn't want to go on camera showed TV9 messages an Uber driver sent her asking her out.

A spokesperson for Uber says all rides should be strictly professional and it takes safety concerns with drivers very seriously.

"We would not hesitate to remove someone if there's a claim that the experience is not what they expected we will look into it and talk to both the rider and driver and make the appropriate action,” Kayla Whaling said.

The company does background checks that include:

  • having a license for a minimum of one year. If under 23 a minimum of three years
  • A clean driving record
  • And a clean criminal record

Neither of the women TV9 spoke with reported the incidents to police.

Both Uber and law enforcement recommend calling 911 if a driver gets out of line and trust your gut.

"Make sure one verify that the vehicle itself is the one that you've pre-arranged a ride with and I think too trust your instincts if it doesn't seem right, trust your instincts,” public information officer Scott Gaarde said.

It can also potentially be easy for someone to pretend to be an Uber driver. Anyone can order an Uber decal online without having to verify that they are a driver.

That's why Uber says rely on the app to order rides.

The app shows you the license plate number, make and model of the car, and a name and photo of your driver - so you know the driver is legit You can also share your estimated arrival time with friends and family so they can follow your route and make sure you get home safe and sound.

TV9 called around to a few police departments and found that within the last few weeks a woman in Iowa City filed a police report about an Uber driver.

Despite all of that, many of the people said they are still willing to use the app because of its convenience.