ROBBINSVILLE, NJ -- Before an emotional crowd of family, classmates, and elected leaders, Governor Phil Murphy signed "Sami's Law" on Thursday.
The new law is named after Samantha Josephson, a Robbinsville resident who was brutally murdered in March while attending college in South Carolina, allegedly by an individual she mistook as a driver for a ridesharing service.
Murphy, who choked up speaking about the strength of the Josephson family, called the law Sami's legacy that long outlives her short time here.
“Every day, thousands of rideshare passengers entrust drivers to get them to and from home, school, and work safely and without delay,” said Murphy. “Just one unscrupulous mind seeking to take advantage of those passengers is one too many, and it is our responsibility to keep riders safe. Today, I am proud to stand beside the Josephson family and legislative sponsors to enhance protections for New Jersey’s rideshare passengers, and ensure that Samantha Josephson’s tragic death is not in vain.”
Under the new law ride sharing services such as Uber and Lyft will 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.
Sami's father, Seymour Josephson, said the passage of this law is a "bittersweet moment."
"Things have started to change. New Jersey has become the leader in the ride-sharing industry for safety," he said. "We are talking about technology companies. Why hasn't this been done? The QR code? The signage? If this was already in place, I would not be standing here, Samantha would. Samantha would be alive."
“What Seymour and Marci Josephson and their family have endured with the loss of their daughter Sami is a hardship that no family should face,” said Assemblyman Wayne DeAngelo (D-Hamilton). “No one should ever be concerned for the safety of themselves or their loved ones when using these services. We must make sure that as these services continue to develop we are constantly working together to make sure customers are served safely and responsibly.”
Senator Linda Greenstein (D-Plainsboro) said that she too has totally changed her behavior when getting in to an Uber such as checking the license plates and questioning the driver.
“Sami Josephson’s story is a tragedy that could have happened to anyone utilizing popular ridesharing services. It devastated our community and we must do what we can to promote public safety and honor her life,” said Greenstein. “By placing a greater emphasis on visual safeguards, riders will be able to identify key items to confirm they are entering a credentialed ridesharing vehicle.”
“In the wake of tragedy, we have seen our local community come together to support the Josephson Family and affect meaningful change. No parent should have to experience the loss of a child, especially due to a lack of common sense safety measures for rideshare services. With the passage of this legislation, New Jersey leads the nation with stricter regulations for these widely utilized services such as Uber and Lyft,” said Assemblyman Daniel Benson (D-Hamilton).
Robbinsville Mayor David Fried called the Josephson family "one of the bravest families" he's ever met. Since Sami's death in March 2019, the Josephson family has begun the "What's my name?" foundation and advocated for the passage of safer ride-sharing laws including meeting with numerous members of Congress including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
Rideshare services have 180 days to comply with the new law.
Federal legislation that would enact a similar law nationally has also been sponsored by New Jersey Representative Chris Smith (R-4).
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