Lyft recorded 4,000 cases of sex assault in three years
Lyft (AFP)

Just over 4,000 sexual assaults that occurred during Lyft trips were reported to the US ride-hailing company from 2017-2019, the firm said in its first-ever safety report.

California-based Lyft, which faces sex assault lawsuits from passengers, had pledged transparency in 2019 after rival Uber released a report on safety matters.

Lyft says that while sexual violence is statistically rare, it is a serious problem.

"Behind every report is a real person and real experience, and our goal is to make each Lyft ride as safe as we possibly can," Jennifer Brandenburger, Lyft's director of research and development policy, said in a statement.

The company also acknowledged the true number of assaults is likely underestimated, as "it can sometimes be months or years before a survivor is ready to come forward and report what happened – if they choose to do so at all."

Lyft said there were 4,158 reports of sexual assault from January 1, 2017 to December 31, 2019 in the United States.

In 2019, the most recent year covered by the report, 1,807 sexual assaults were counted, up 44 percent from the previous year.

According to Lyft, this increase was due in part to an increase in the total number of rides and customers.

In the fourth quarter of 2019, for example, the company counted 22.9 million active users, up from 18.6 million a year earlier at the same time.

The report establishes five categories of assault that include kissing, touching and penetration.

Uber and Lyft face several US lawsuits from victims of sexual violence, who accuse the two platforms of not having enough tools in place on their apps to protect them.

"We understand that our work is never finished, and we will continue to invest in efforts that help protect and empower our community," Brandenburger wrote.