Ride-share drivers, riders weigh in on safety after USC student’s killing

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A University of South Carolina student was killed after mistaking the murder suspect’s car for her Uber ride, according to police. It’s a mistake that can happen to anyone, but can be avoided if riders take the right safety measures. 

Ryan Smith drives for Uber and Lyft in the Upstate. He says both companies have strict requirements for drivers, from identification on cars to providing riders with the driver’s license plate, car make and model and the driver’s picture. 

“They make sure that we have adequately labeled the car, so you are going to have stickers on your front windshield and possibly your back windshield,” Smith told 7News. “What I personally like to do, whether I’m driving or riding, is say the person’s name.” 

Police say USC student Samantha Josephson mistakenly got into a black Chevrolet Impala thinking it was the Uber she called. 

“Further investigation on the suspect vehicle [revealed] that a child safety seat was in the back and the child safety locks were activated on the door. That would not allow someone to escape from the back of a suspect vehicle,” said Columbia Police Chief W.H. “Skip” Holbrook during a press conference on Saturday. 

Ride-share companies do annual criminal checks on all drivers and Uber has an emergency button in the app that notifies 911. 

However, riders can take their own safety measures. Precautions include confirming the details with the driver before getting into the car and riding in groups when possible. 

“Do you think there’s anything that Uber of Lyft could do to make you feel safer?” 7News reporter Stefany Bornman asked a user of the service. 

“That’s hard to say, everything is really scary right now.” Lance Munn told 7News. 

Smith tells 7News more measures could be in place to prevent another tragedy and keep both drivers and riders safe. 

“I like the suggestion, like as far as scanning. If they sent us our own personal bar code on the car, if you scan it and it says ‘this is not your Uber’ you won’t get into the car.” Smith said. 

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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