Is that really your Uber? Safety initiative launched in Ocean County
What's my name?
That question could mean the difference between life and death, as it likely did for 21-year-old Samantha "Sami" Josephson, of Robbinsville, who in March 2019 got into the wrong car in South Carolina and was kidnapped and murdered by the driver of the fake Uber.
"Your heart just breaks when you hear the story," said Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley Billhimer, who met Sami's father in December 2019. "You think to yourself, this is a such a preventable crime, that if there was more ride-share awareness, we can prevent this from happening to anyone."
Billhimer's office on Friday announced a countywide initiative to promote ride-sharing safety, distributing hundreds of "SAMI" signs to police chiefs and businesses, to be placed throughout the county in spots where residents and patrons are likely to utilize services such as Uber and Lyft.
The SAMI signs remind passengers to Stop to review an app's safety features, Ask the driver, "What's my name?," Match the license plate and other vehicle details presented on the app, and Inform others about the ride.
"If he doesn't know your name, you're in the wrong car," Billhimer said.
Still grieving their loss, Sami's parents Seymour and Marci created the #WHATSMYNAME Foundation to educate others on the importance of ride-share safety.
On June 20, 2019, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy signed "Sami's Law," which requires Uber, Lyft and all rideshare companies to take multiple steps that would help passengers correctly identify the vehicle that's been chosen on their app. Drivers who fail to comply are subject to a fine of $250, and ride-share companies that fail to comply may have their New Jersey permit suspended or revoked.
Businesses interested in posting a SAMI sign are asked to contact Bryan Huntenburg at the Ocean County Prosecutor's Office at 732-929-2027, ext. 2911.
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Contact reporter Dino Flammia at firstname.lastname@example.org.