In response to the sexual assault and kidnapping of an Uber driver in Chicago's southwest suburbs, fearful rideshare drivers have called on companies to implement a number of safety changes.
Drivers told NBC 5 they're aware taking each trip is a risk, but believe more protections are necessary.
"As a female, it makes it really hard," said Felicia Gills, who has been driving for Uber since 2014. "I have to consider the fact that I need to make it home safe, so it makes you leery of picking up anybody."
U.S. & World
Rideshare drivers are being increasingly targeted by carjackers, according to the Independent Drivers Guild, a group aiming to obtain more protections for their members as carjackings increase in the city.
The group has released a list of several demands including passenger verification, using mandatory profile photos, as well as a voice-activated panic button.
"We can not get on the app without taking a picture without a face mask on, but when people get in our cars we have no idea who they are, where they’re coming from and what they’ve ever done," Gills explained.
In regard to the recent incident, the Uber driver, a 29-year-old woman, picked up the suspect Wednesday near a Darien restaurant.
The man, identified as Andrew Anania, 25, entered her GMC Terrain, showed a gun and demanded she drive to alleys in Summit and Stickney, where he sexually assaulted her, police said.
He then demanded she drive him to the 3200 block of West 26th Street in Chicago and went through her purse before fleeing with an unknown amount of cash, police said.
The driver was taken to the hospital and reported to be in good condition.
In a statement, Uber said it has been in touch with the driver to offer support and is cooperating with police regarding the investigation.
Other violent incidents involving rideshare drivers have been reported in the past few months, including a February shooting in which a driver was left partially paralyzed.