Police: Uber driver punched by passenger, robbed in Allentown

Posted at 10:52 AM, Aug 18, 2017

An Uber driver was picking up a passenger near the 200 block of Allen Street early Friday morning when that passenger punched him in the back of the head, stole an undisclosed amount of money and took off on foot, according to Buffalo Police.

The 39-year-old male driver was picking up the passenger around 3 a.m. and told police there might have been two other suspects.

7 Eyewitness News reached out to both Uber and Lyft regarding driver safety and how the ride sharing services handle situations like this.

A spokesperson for Uber said the company is aware of and monitoring the incident on Allen Street and it will support the driver in any way it can. When reached Friday morning, Uber did not know the identity of the driver but had been in contact with Buffalo Police.

The app has a rating system that acts a safety of sorts, allowing drivers and riders to report inappropriate behaviors. And while drivers are not required to go through safety training for situations like this, the company provides safety tips and information to all of its drivers.

"Obviously when I signed up this was in the back of my mind that something like this can happen," said Austin Willison, an Uber driver who lives in North Tonawanda.

"As soon as you pick someone up in the car, it always crosses your mind," explained Zach Trunzo, another Uber driver. "Who is this?"

Willison and Trunzo were not involved in the Allentown incident and both say they've never felt unsafe while driving for Uber.

Information for Lyft's safety policies and procedures can be found here. They released the following statement:

"The safety of the Lyft community - riders and drivers - is our top priority. Since the beginning, we have worked hard to design policies and features that protect our community. These include professionally administered background checks, in-app photos, real-time ride tracking, a two-way rating system, a 24/7 critical response line, and a dedicated Trust and Safety team based in Nashville that investigates safety related concerns. We take any safety allegation incredibly seriously. Inappropriate behavior can lead to permanent deactivation from the Lyft platform."