TOMS RIVER — Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley D. Billhimer recently announced a county-wide initiative to promote awareness and ride-sharing safety.
On March 29, 2019, Samantha Josephson, Robbinsville, known as Sami, a 21 year old senior at the University of South Carolina, got into a stranger’s car – mistaking it for her Uber. The child safety locks were activated, preventing her from escaping. Sami was kidnapped and murdered by the driver of the fake Uber.
While still grieving the loss of their daughter, Seymour and Marci Josephson set out to share her story and educate others on the importance of ride share safety so that no other family would have to suffer this kind of loss. They created the #WHATSMYNAME Foundation, reminding people to always ask their ride share driver to repeat back their name before getting into the vehicle.
Days after Sami’s murder, South Carolina legislators introduced the “Samantha L. Josephson Ridesharing Safety Act” to require ride-sharing vehicles to have an illuminated, company provided sign with the company’s trademark or logo that can be seen in the dark. The bill was later signed by the Governor of South Carolina.
On June 20, 2019, Governor Phil Murphy signed “Sami’s Law” to enhance protections for ride-share passengers.
“Sami’s Law,” which goes into effect on March 20, 2020, requires ride-share companies to issue additional identification materials to drivers to help passengers correctly identify their vehicle. First, ride-share companies must issue two identifying markers to each driver to be displayed on the front windshield and rear window. Second, ride-share companies must create and provide every driver with two copies of a two-dimensional barcode or other machine-readable code that passengers can scan to confirm the identity of the vehicle. Third, ride-share companies shall produce and issue two credential placards to be displayed on the driver and passenger side rear windows that include the driver’s name, photo, and license plate number. Drivers who fail to comply with these provisions are subject to a fine of $250, and ride-share companies that fail to comply with these provisions can have their permit to operate in New Jersey suspended or revoked.
Sponsors of the New Jersey legislation include Senators Patrick Diegnan, Linda Greenstein, and Thomas Kean, and General Assembly Members Daniel Benson, Wayne DeAngelo, Valerie Vainieri Huttle, and Paul Moriarty.
A similar piece of legislation, also named “Sami’s Law,” was recently introduced at the federal level – cosponsored by Senators Robert Menendez and Cory Booker in the United States Senate, and led by Representative Chris Smith in the House of Representatives.
“I had the opportunity to meet Seymour Josephson in December of last year. I was heartbroken as Mr. Josephson recalled the details of Sami’s murder, just heartbroken. I can’t even begin to imagine how he and his wife Marci have been able to go on, let alone champion this cause. Getting through each day without Sami is difficult enough,” Prosecutor Billhimer stated. “I decided that I would do everything in my power to promote ride-sharing safety and support the Josephsons in any way I can,” Prosecutor Billhimer added.
“To that end, I invited Mr. Josephson to address our Ocean County Police Chief’s Association. Mr. Josephson did so on February 12, 2020 and I’m proud to say our Police Chiefs felt the same as I did after hearing from Mr. Josephson. Mr. Josephson, the Ocean County Police Chiefs Association and I are proud to announce the launch of the #WHATSMYNAME Ride Share Safety Program in Ocean County. To advance this initiative, the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office has distributed 300 SAMI signs, through our Chiefs, to be placed throughout Ocean County. SAMI signs will be displayed in areas frequented by ride-share passengers,” Prosecutor Billhimer added.
The SAMI signs remind ride-share passengers to always Stop to review safety features, Ask “What’s my name?, Match license plate & display and Inform (share details).
“It is my sincere hope that the presence of these SAMI signs throughout Ocean County will raise awareness for ride-sharing safety. No one should ever have to go through horror that Sami endured or the agony her family is going through,” Prosecutor Billhimer concluded.
If you would like a SAMI sign to display at your business, please contact Bryan Huntenburg at the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office at 732-929-2027, ext. 2911.
Pictured below is Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley D. Billhimer. Seymour Josephson and Harvey Cedars Police Chief/President of the Ocean County Police Chiefs Association Robert Burnaford.
For more information on the #WHATSMYNAME Foundation, please visit www.whatsmyname.org