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USC Student Rideshare Tragedy Prompts Calls for Safety

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The tragic death of University of South Carolina student Samantha Josephson in late March has prompted calls from her family, state lawmakers and students to improve rideshare app safety. Josephson, who was 21 years old, got into a vehicle that she mistakenly believed was the Uber she had called for a ride home. She was found dead within hours of getting in the vehicle, on March 29. The driver of the vehicle, 24-year-old Nathaniel Rowland, was charged with kidnapping and murder.

Although Rowland didn’t drive for Uber, South Carolina State Representatives introduced a bill called the Samantha L. Josephson Ridesharing Safety Act that would require all Uber, Lyft and other rideshare drivers to display illuminated signs in their vehicles. The bill has passed the South Carolina House and is awaiting Senate review. Other states, including New York and North Carolina, have since followed in South Carolina’s path and introduced similar bills.

Uber’s Response to Safety Concerns

In an article published in The State, Uber responded to Josephson’s death by saying that the company has worked with police and colleges throughout the country to educate the public about how to avoid fake rideshare drivers. The company said it remains focused on increasing public awareness about this issue.

Safety Tips

Here are some safety tips to correctly identify your rideshare vehicle and to help stay safe in rideshares:

  • Carefully review the information about the driver and vehicle provided by your rideshare app. For example, when ordering a vehicle with Uber, you should be able to see the driver’s name and photo, and the car’s make, model and license plate number. Lyft provides similar information.
  • Before getting in a vehicle, ask the driver what your name is. If they can’t tell you, walk away.
  • Both Lyft and Uber have share features so you can share your ride information and estimated arrival time with a loved one. This can be a smart feature to use so someone else knows where you are at all times during your ride.
  • Sit in the back seat if possible, in case you need to exit the vehicle quickly.

Additionally, if you feel uncomfortable with the rideshare driver or vehicle, don’t get in it. Cancel the ride. If you are already in the vehicle and you feel in danger, use the 911 button in your app, which will give the operator your trip information. This button may also be valuable to quickly call for emergency assistance should the vehicle be in an accident.

If you are injured in a rideshare accident, it can be worthwhile to consult with a car accident attorney who has handled rideshare cases. The question of whose insurance—the rideshare driver’s, the rideshare company’s, or that of a third party who may have caused the accident–will cover your injuries can be complicated. An experienced attorney can help answer that question.

Experienced Columbia, SC Personal Injury Attorneys

Our knowledgeable car accident attorneys at the The Louthian Firm Accident & Injury Lawyers are here to help you understand your options. Contact us at 803-592-6231 or fill out our online form to schedule a free, no-obligation, consultation.

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