WASHINGTON, DC – Despite a recent announcement by Uber that they will implement a personal identification system (PIN), Congressman Chris Smith (R-NJ) and the Robbinsville family of slain college student Samantha Josephson continued their call for federal legislation, Sami's Law, to protect rideshare passengers. While attending college at University of South Carolina, Sami was allegedly brutally murdered by an individual posing as a driver for a ridesharing service while attending college at University of South Carolina.
“We are hopeful that the new verification feature rolled out by Uber this week will prove to be a step in the right direction to protect rideshare customers and drivers,” said Smith. “Their process appears similar to that which is mandated in the proposed Sami’s Law. Thus, I am are cautiously optimistic that this new feature meets the standards proposed and as such, we urge Uber to enthusiastically support Sami’s Law so that this and other protections are industry-wide."
The measure would mandate new protections through the use of technology, such as a four-digit personal authentication; or a scannable quick response (QR) code on the passenger windows; or other cutting edge successor technologies to verify a car before entering a rideshare vehicle.
“Enacting the simple federal standards in Sami’s Law will protect riders—especially women from sexual assault—and help ensure that all customers are equally protected no matter which vendor they use, regardless in which state they travel,” said Smith.
Sami’s father, Seymour Josephson, said commended Uber for their effort but believes safety laws are needed to protect passengers of all rideshare companies.
“I think it is great that Uber has taken the lead in using technology and creating a safer ride experience for the public. While Uber has taken this initiative in using technology it is still important for us to continue the push for legislation. There are many more rideshare companies out there in the United States and North America and we must continue the push in creating a safer ride share environment for every company that participates in the industry. We must continue with additional safety measures like front license plates in order to protect all passengers,” said Josephson.
In June, Governor Phil Murphy signed "Sami's Law" that requires ride sharing services such as Uber and Lyft to provide every driver with a unique identifier, such as a two-dimensional barcode, so that rider can confirm their identity prior to entering the vehicle.
More recently, Mercer County Assemblyman Dan Benson introduced legislation that would require transportation network companies such as Uber and Lyft to share information with the public about sexual misconduct investigations of a driver. The companies would be able to ban drivers from accessing their digital network during and following an investigation.
“I could only wish that it did not take Samantha's death and our constant push to create these safety measures. We ask, why wasn't this done prior? Why did it take her kidnapping and murder for this to happen," Josephson said.
Uber recently released a report on its rideshare program that revealed nearly 6,000 incidents of sexual assault, 464 reports of rape and 19 deaths due to physical assault in the last two years.
“With no rules, no guidelines and an appalling lack of transparency—we simply don’t know whose car we are entering, a predator working for the rideshare company or a predator pretending to be, as was the case with Sami,” said Smith.
Smith noted that Uber and Lyft declined to testify at a bipartisan hearing on ride share safety and Sami’s law held in October.
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