SafeHer: a safer alternative for women and kids
Recent media coverage has documented that all is not peachy in the ridesharing universe. I’m not talking about Uber and Lyft’s now court‐sanctioned practice of designating its drivers “independent contractors” instead of employees so they don’t have to pay benefits or collect payroll taxes.
Reports that female patrons of the ridesharing who are riding without a companion have been sexually harassed or assaulted. This should make every woman cognizant of personal safety issues, particularly the fact that there is more safety in numbers than in riding solo.
Think about it for a moment. Unless you’re hitchhiking, you probably wouldn’t accept a ride from just anyone, would you? Why would you do it simply because there’s an Uber sign in the window? Sexual assault is a crime of opportunity that is all about power. In this day and age, most women know this, and will not willfully put themselves at risk.
In 2014, only 33.6% of sexual assault victims reported the crime to authorities. Though the number of sexual assaults decreased from 2013‐2014, there were still upwards of 280,000 rapes/sexual assaults in 2014. While one is unacceptable. 280,000 is unconscionable.
After encountering a potentially dangerous passenger, an Uber driver in the Boston area, Michael Pelletz, realized the “stranger danger” his wife and daughters could be exposed to while utilizing ride share services like the one for which he drives.
He decided that, for their protection, women and kids under age 13 deserve a service exclusively for them, with safety features that Uber and Lyft have yet to implement, such as staffing it with only female drivers who have been through extensive background checks, and providing a “secret word” to both driver and client, so women can confirm driver identity before getting into the car. There’s also no surge pricing, so peak travel times don’t cost you more.
Originally rolled out in Boston in March under the banner Chariot for Women, the organization is garnering national interest and has been renamed SafeHer. Though Pelletz’ vision was to service just the Boston area, demand is such that SafeHer soon will deploy in Pittsburg, PA. There are court challenges to the business model because it denies services to men, but one has to hope the courts will stand and rule on the side of women’s safety.
If you have an entrepreneurial spirit, you may want to consider bringing SafeHer to your city.
I did not find a website for the service. But if you google “Michael Pelletz Boston” you’ll find numerous ways to contact him through social media, in addition to regional and national reporting on the service. Drivers are compensated $98 for every $100 in fares, so if you always wanted to be your own boss with your own franchise, this could be an opportunity for you! Who wouldn’t want a business for a demographic that is over half the population?