Ridesharing apps, such as Uber and Lyft, are very popular modes of transportation in San Diego and throughout the United States. However, these apps carry serious risks for some riders, particularly women. The government of New Jersey is fighting against these dangers with the passage of Sami’s Law.
Sami Josephson’s Story
In March 2019, a man mistaken for an Uber driver kidnapped and murdered Samantha “Sami” Josephson in downtown Columbia, South Carolina. Sami, a 21-year-old student at the University of South Carolina, was spending a night out with her friends and wanted a safe ride home. At 2:00 am on a Friday morning, security footage caught her climbing into a black Chevy Impala she mistook as the Uber she ordered.
Her friends alerted police that Sami was missing on Friday afternoon. The next morning, turkey hunters discovered Sami’s body nearly 65 miles away from where she left her friends. Police arrested her murderer, who told law enforcement officers that he activated child-safety locks after Sami entered his vehicle.
Sami Josephson had her whole life ahead of her. The 21-year-old was almost finished with her political science degree at the University of South Carolina and planned on attending law school at Drexel University. Originally from Robbinsville, New Jersey, Sami’s death had a resounding impact on her friends, family, and community members – and now, her home state is taking action to ensure that this tragedy does not impact more young women.
What Is Sami’s Law?
According to ABC News, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed Sami’s Law on June 2019 in Sami’s hometown. The new law will now require ridesharing vehicles to place more identifying markers on their bodies. Sami’s law will require that every rideshare vehicle operating in New Jersey carry and post the following identification documents.
- Two reflective credential placards with the driver’s name, photo, and license plate number, which the driver will need to place on the driver and passenger side back windows
- Two barcodes or machine-readable codes that passengers requesting rideshare vehicles can scan to confirm that they are with the correct rideshare driver
In addition to these changes, Sami’s Law will also require that experts conduct a study on the rates of violence against Uber passengers and drivers.
After Sami’s death, Uber released a statement in which they reiterated their best practices for using their service. As far as the public knows, Uber has not taken any tangible action to make their rides safer for women in response to Sami’s death. The changes made by Sami’s Law will make it easier to identify who your rideshare driver is and ensure that you are not getting into the wrong vehicle.
Safety Tips for Rideshare Passengers
Ridesharing comes with several risks to passengers, especially women. To avoid any safety issues while using these apps, follow these tips.
- Use the Uber or Lyft app to verify the driver’s information before you get into the car. The app should list the license plate number, the make, and model of the vehicle, and the name and photo of the driver.
- Before you get into the vehicle, ask the driver to confirm your name. Do not give your name to the driver – instead, ask “Who are you here to pick up?”
- Download a panic button app on your phone to keep yourself safe while riding. If the driver does something that makes you feel unsafe, these apps can alert police to your location.
- Follow along on the app’s map to ensure you are going to your correct destination and the driver does not cancel your trip mid-ride.
- Before you get into the vehicle, make sure that child safety locks are not on. Ask the driver to roll down your window and reach inside to open the door.
Following these tips can help you have a safer ridesharing experience. If you are the victim of assault, abuse, or violence at the hands of an Uber or Lyft driver, contact law enforcement as soon as possible. If you need assistance with your claim against Uber or Lyft, contact an Uber and Lyft sexual assault attorney as soon as possible.