Laws and Safety Campaigns Launched Following Samantha Josephson’s Death

Following the death of a University of South Carolina student, Samantha Josephson, the school has launched a new safety campaign called #WhatsMyName to encourage other riders to be alert before entering any vehicles.

The death of 21-year-old Samantha Josephson shook the University of South Carolina campus and drew national attention after the college student got into a car that she mistook for an Uber she had called. Her friends reported her missing after they had gone out the night before but got separated and hadn’t heard from her. Josephson was seen getting into a black Chevrolet Impala at 2 a.m. Her body was then found in a wooded area by hunters the day after she was last seen. The police in Columbia, S.C. have arrested Nathaniel Rowland in connection to the kidnapping and murder after finding antibacterial wipes, bleach, window cleaner, Josephson’s blood, and cellphone in the suspect’s car. Police also found that the child locks were engaged, making it impossible for Josephson to flee.

The University of South Carolina President Harris Pastides issued a letter to students to ask them to stay safe when using any ridesharing apps such as Uber or Lyft. “In Samantha’s memory, I ask you to embrace a new pledge,” wrote Pastides, “that you will NEVER use a ride share service without doing the following: 1. Ensure the license plate, make, model and color of the vehicle match what’s in your app and the driver matches the photo and name in the app; AND 2. Ask the driver “WHAT’S MY NAME?” If s/he doesn’t say your name, DO NOT get into the vehicle.” Since his statement, #WhatsMyName has been a trending hashtag on Twitter, a campaign spread by USC students, including the Alpha Gamma Delta sisters, the sorority Josephson was part of.

Uber has had issues in the past with rideshare scams, stating in a 2017 blog post: “Unauthorized individuals may pose as rideshare drivers and target people who appear to be distracted or impaired.” They went on to encourage users to check that the driver and car they are about to get into matches the information listed on their apps. An Uber representative said the company was “devastated” by Josephson’s death and stated: “Since 2017, we’ve been working with local law enforcement and college campuses across the country to educate the public about how to avoid fake rideshare drivers. Everyone at Uber is devastated to hear about this unspeakable crime, and our hearts are with Samantha Josephson’s family and loved ones. We remain focused on raising public awareness about this incredibly important issue."

Now, lawmakers in South Carolina have introduced a bill that will “require all ride-hailing services in the state to have illuminated signs on their vehicles.” The signs must be visible both day and night and is a step up from current South Carolina law which requires drivers to apply a “signage or emblem” on their vehicle. The law would also require drivers to return the illuminated sign once they stop working for a ride-hailing app. State Representatives, Seth Rose and Micah Caskey, have stated that the law would require the sign to be visible from at least 50 feet away. “Helping riders avoid psychos is a no-brainer,” said Caskey on Twitter. “I’m hopeful we can get this bipartisanship bill through legislature quickly.”

Courtesy of The Greenville News

“Samantha’s father said he wants everyone to remember her name,” said Rep. Rose. The bill will be named the “Samantha L. Josephson Ridesharing Safety Act” in her memory.