All Samantha Josephson, a 21-year-old student at the University of South Carolina, wanted was to go home. It didn’t occur to her that calling an Uber would be worse than driving home drunk. It wouldn’t to any of us that try to be conscientious citizens.
The Uber driver knows the name of the person getting in their vehicle. Samantha should have asked the Uber driver her name. If he didn’t know her name, she shouldn’t have climbed into his car. One little mistake that cost Samantha her life.
Samantha cannot learn from her mistake, but you can honor Samantha by following some easy life lessons that will keep you safer.
1. Ask the driver “What’s my name?” If the driver doesn’t say your name, DO NOT get into the vehicle. If Samantha had looked up from her phone before she got into the car with the bowtie, the wrong Chevy Impala, and asked the driver what her name was, she would be alive today.
2. Make sure the license plate, make, model and color of the vehicle match what’s on your app. You should have a picture of the driver along with their name. Look before you leap into a person’s car that you don’t know.
Is a QR code the solution for Uber and Lyft drivers?
Sydney Ford started a petition to Get QR Codes for Uber/Lyft Drivers. She has 275,000 signatures so far and needs 300,000, “As people everywhere are embracing the #WhatsMyName campaign in honor of Sami, I’d like to ask that Uber and Lyft help us in steps to assure safety for all passengers.”
“A QR code. It’s that easy. That’s all it takes to verify that the Uber or Lyft you are getting in is yours. Not only does it help passengers verify they are getting in the right car, but it helps drivers know they are picking up the right person. I spoke to my Lyft driver this weekend who also had stories to share about people intentionally getting in his car who aren’t passengers in an attempt to get money or get a ride somewhere. Scanning a QR code on the window of the passenger side of your Uber/Lyft would instantly verify for both parties that you are the right person. In addition, it could be used as a tool to “check in” your ride and alert others that you are in the car.”
Top Ten ways to stay safe in an Uber or Lyft
Uber has posted the top ten safety tips for riders on their website.
To help keep riders safe, we vet Uber driver-partners and build our technology with safety in mind. But there are also things that you as a rider can do to stay safe. We worked with law enforcement to create this list of tips to help you stay safe while riding with Uber.
1. Plan ahead. Before you request a ride, think about where you’re headed and review the safety features in the app, so you know how to use them.
2. Request your ride inside. Avoid spending unnecessary time outside alone with your phone in your hand. Instead, wait indoors until the app shows your driver has arrived.
3. Get in the right car. Before you get in the car, check that license plate, driver photo, and driver name all match what’s listed in the app. Uber rides can only be requested through the app, so never get in a car with a driver who claims to be with Uber and offers a ride.
4. Be a backseat rider. If you’re riding alone, sit in the backseat. This ensures you can safely exit on either side of the vehicle to avoid moving traffic, and it gives you and your driver some personal space.
5. Buckle up. The Centers for Disease Control reports that seatbelt use is the most effective way to save lives and reduce injuries related to car accidents.
6. Share your trip details with a friend. While en route, tap “Share status” in the app to share your driver’s name, photo, license plate, and location with a friend or family member. They can track your trip and see your ETA without downloading the Uber app.
7. Protect your personal information. There’s no need to share your phone number or other contact information with your driver. If a rider and driver need to contact each other, the Uber app automatically anonymizes both phone numbers to protect everyone’s privacy.
8. Follow your intuition. Trust your instincts and use your best judgment when riding with Uber. And if you ever feel you’re in an emergency situation, call 911 immediately.
9. Be kind and respectful. As outlined in our community guidelines, please respect your driver and his or her car.
10. Give feedback on your trip. Your feedback helps us improve the Uber experience for everyone. Our 24/7 global support team reviews feedback and will follow up with appropriate action on any reports of conduct that violate our community guidelines.
Another idea is to put Find my iPhone on your app. Give someone that you trust your password and they can find out where your iPhone is in real time.
Certain cars make great Uber cars. I scanned my past trips, and Toyota is by far the favorite car of Uber drivers. Interestingly as well, Uber gives you the make and model of the car you rode in and the license number. Lyft gives you the name of the driver and the route you went in the vehicle. Combining all of that information could be really helpful in finding someone if Samantha had gotten in the correct vehicle and still not been taken home.
If you are a bystander and see someone struggling in a car, call 911. I don’t know how long after Samantha got into the car before she realized it was the wrong car, but the car had child locks so she couldn’t get out.
Help someone that looks like they are in need. Maybe someday they will pay it forward.