3 simple words that can save your life in an Uber or Lyft
What's my name?
That simple question might have saved the life of a 21-year-old college student from New Jersey.
On March 29, 2019, Samantha Josephson, a Robbinsville resident and a senior at the University of South Carolina, was kidnapped and murdered when she got into a car she thought was her Uber ride.
Her parents have since dedicated their lives to educating others on the importance of ride-share safety.
Seymour and Marci Josephson have established the #Whatsmyname Foundation in their daughter's honor.
Seymour Josephson said the foundation is dedicated to continue educating the world around ride share safety, saving lives and protecting those against sexual assault.
On the foundation's website, there are public service announcements promoting ride share safety from celebrities such as actor Jason Alexander, comedian Bob Saget and former Hootie and the Blowfish frontman, Darius Rucker.
The foundation site also features upcoming events, ways to donate and most importantly, "The Steps of Samantha."
Seymour and his wife developed a simple program that may help prevent a tragedy like what happened to their beloved daughter from happening again.
The program is simple because they used Samantha's nickname, "Sami" as an acronym for education.
Stop - Plan ahead. Before you request a ride, think about where you're headed and review the features in the ride app so you know how to use them.
Ask - Ask the driver, "What's my name?" to confirm they have booked a trip with you through the ride sharing app.
Match - Match the make, model and license plate of the car with the one displayed in the app.
Inform - Share the details of your trip with a friend.
Seymour said what happened to his daughter can happen to anyone. People are quick to call for their ride and not do the safety features.
"Do these steps because once you're in the car, it's too late. That's what happened to Samantha. The back door locks were engaged and she couldn't get out," he said.
Uber even has a four digit pin that 99.9% of people do not know about and that's a confirmation before getting into the car, he said.
Seymour said if people would just simply ask the driver "what's my name?" and match the car and the license plate to the one in the app, then "we've done our job."
Everyone needs to be smart and protect themselves. After all, they're getting into cars with strangers at the wheel. Following the SAMI steps is quick and simple but so powerful and effective, Josephson said.
New ride-share laws
Throughout all the efforts to keep Sami's memory alive and to help keep men and women safe from a tragedy like this happening again, Josephson continues to push for federal laws addressing ride share safety.
In the last Congress, the Josephson's saw the House pass without opposition legislation named for Samantha. But the Senate never took up the measure.
U.S. Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J. 4th District, is trying again, reintroducing Sami's Law to require vehicles for ride-sharing companies such as Uber and Lyft clearly be identified before a passenger gets in.
Josephson said he is scheduled to meet with White House representatives this week and continues to tour colleges to promote ride share safety.
Scholarship and events
Samantha's father continues to keep her memory alive, not only with the foundation, but also with speaking engagements and events.
On Saturday, September 25, there will be a 5K run and 1-mile walk in her honor at the gazebo at the lake in the town center of Robbinsville. There will be food trucks, merchandise tables, information and a jewelry stand where 20% of all sales will go back to the #Whatsmyname Foundation. A rock garden will also be dedicated to Samantha.
Registration is open until September 22 but he said walkup registrations will be accepted the day of the event.
Josephson said the foundation has given out eight scholarships this year to high school seniors in memory of Samantha. Three were given out last year and three in 2019.
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