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Uber driver assaulted in Miami: How safe is the system?

A Youtube video showing a young woman assaulting an Uber driver, both physically and verbally, has gone viral. The woman in question was suspended from her job, but what does the incident tell us about the safety of Uber drivers?

A Miami doctor has been placed on administrative leave after a video that appears to show her assaulting an Uber driver was posted on Youtube.

The incident took place in the city’s Brickell area and had been viewed 1.5 million times by midday Friday.

The assailant, who has been identified as a fourth-year neurology resident Anjali Ramkissoon of Jackson Health System, is shown hitting and screaming obscenities at the driver. Hospital administrators have placed the woman on administrative leave, pending an investigation of the incident. 

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"Jackson has launched an internal investigation," reads a statement from the hospital. "The outcome of the investigation will determine whether any disciplinary action will be taken, up to and including termination."

Uber is also conducting an investigation of the incident, a company spokesperson told The Christian Science Monitor in an email:

Uber expects everyone in our community to treat each other with respect and common courtesy, and we have a zero tolerance policy for all forms of harassment and abuse. We have suspended this rider's account as we further investigate this incident.

As Uber has gained popularity throughout the United States, it has faced varied criticisms regarding its business model. Passenger safety has been a major focus as accusations of sexual assault have emerged in the United States and abroad. Driver safety has received less public attention, but the company says that it is a high priority issue and one of the reasons that Uber users are required to provide verifiable details of their identity.

“We’re not OK with any rider behavior that makes drivers concerned for their safety or the safety of their vehicles," the spokesperson told the Monitor. "Riders reported to be abusive toward drivers or [who] violate our terms of service may lose access to the system."

Driver safety is one of the reasons Uber prohibits drivers from picking passengers up on the street who have not requested a ride through the app, according to a statement on the company website.

That's what Ms. Ramkissoon was trying to do, Juan Cinco, the man who uploaded the video, told CBS Miami. He said that he was the one who had summoned the car, but that Ramkissoon attempted to get into the car when it arrived.

The video shows Ramkissoon repeatedly attempt to hit the driver in the face.

The driver, who had gotten out of the vehicle to mitigate the dispute over who should be getting in the car, remains calm throughout the video, placing his hand over her fist in an effort to stop her repeated swings at his face. He eventually pushes the woman to the ground and returns to the driver's side of the car.

She steps into the vehicle and demands a ride, using a torrent of profanity.

After the driver refuses, she begins throwing things out of the vehicle, including a pair of scissors.

Police were called to the scene to deal with a disturbance, according to the Miami Herald, but no report was taken and there will be no criminal investigation.

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