WASHINGTON, DC — In the wake of the murder of a college student killed by a man pretending to be her Uber driver, lawmakers of both parties have introduced a measure in the U.S. Congress to establish protections for ride-share customers across the country.
The bill, named Sami’s Law to honor Samantha Josephson, who a senior at the University of South Carolina when she was murdered, will require enhanced vehicle identification procedures to create a safer environment for ride-share drivers and customers and to make it harder for those with ill intent from impersonating drivers
“Seymour and Marci Josephson are courageously working in their daughter’s, Sami’s, memory to protect ride-share passengers,” Rep. Chris Smith (R-4th District) who authored the bill and has partnered with the Josephsons to promote safety. “Through their unspeakable pain, they are selflessly working for common-sense laws to boost passenger safety and crack down on predators posing as ride-share drivers.”
The bill’s lead Democratic co-sponsor is Rep. Tom Suozzi of NewYork in the House and led in the Senate by Sen. Ben Cardin of Maryland, with Sen. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut and Sen. Robert Menendez of New Jersey, all Democrats.
“They have already made an enormous impact at home, as New Jersey has passed legislation that mirrors the federal version of Sami’s Law,” said Smith who represents Robbinsville, where the Josephsons live, as well as Belmar and Lake Como. “But Sami’s murder underscores that we need federal legislation so that ride-share customers are equally protected in all 50 states.”
Under Sami’s Law, all ride-share vehicles would be required to have a scannable quick response (QR) bar code on both back-passenger side windows that riders could scan on a smart device to verify their ride before entering a vehicle.
The bills (HR-3262 and S-1871) also mandate state issued front license plates for ride-share vehicles and illuminated windshield signs visible in the day and at night from a distance of 50 feet. To address reports of sexual assault, the bill also requires the Government Accountability Office to conduct a study on the prevalence of assault and abuse perpetrated on riders by drivers of ride-hailing vehicles, and on drivers by ride-hailing passengers. The study will also assess the frequency and effectiveness of background checks conducted by ride-sharing companies on potential drivers and the state laws on background checks for drivers.
States that don’t implement these regulations will lose 1 percent of their federal highway funding — a provision that is similar to the federal incentive used to motivate states to raise the drinking age to 21 and to prohibit open alcohol beverage containers in motor vehicles.
In response to their daughter’s tragic death, the Josephsons are also seeking to educate ride-share passengers on the best safety practices, using the acronym S-A-M-I (“Stop, Ask, Match, Inform”) to teach riders to be alert to their surroundings, ensure the car they are entering is the correct ride-share vehicle, ask the driver to identify them by name, and tell friends to track their ride.
In early May, the Josephsons met with Members of Congress and staff, and Administration officials to advocate for laws and policies that would protect ride-share passengers from predators posing as drivers.
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