Law Enforcement Officials Spread Ridesharing Safety Message To College Students

Aug 27, 2019

House Majority Leader John Bell stands with representatives from Uber, who set up a booth in the Talley Student Union of N.C. State on Aug. 27, 2019 to share safety information with students.
Credit Adhiti Bandlamudi / WUNC

Law enforcement officials are trying to spread the message to college students that they should be cautious when using rideshare apps.

In late March of this year, Samantha Josephson, a student at the University of South Carolina, got into a car she thought belonged to her Uber driver. It wasn't. A man kidnapped her and killed her that night.

We'd much rather be involved in the front end and to prevent an incident and or tragedy from happening than to have to deal with it afterwards. -Jack Moorman, chief of police at NC State

Now, North Carolina legislators are trying to protect rideshare passengers here. State Representative John Bell sponsored the Passenger Protection Act which the Governor just signed into law. It creates new rules for rideshare drivers.

"People will start seeing their license plate number on the front of the vehicle in the dashboard, but it will be properly identified and that's so you can see it from about 25 to 35 feet away, before you get to the vehicle," Bell said.

Abigail Lyle, a sophomore studying political science at NC State, says after she heard about Josephson's death, she started approaching the rideshare scene with more caution.

"Especially with everything that's been happening in the news, I've been more skeptical," Lyle said. "So we've been doing more, checking more often just to make sure, instead of not thinking about it [or] just hoping in whatever looks like it."

Lyle says now, whenever she gets into a car, she always checks to make sure the child locks on the doors aren't on, so she'll be able to enter and exit the car on her terms.

Jack Moorman, chief of police at NC State, says the beginning of the school year is one of the best times to share safety tips with students.

"Verify the description of the vehicle, verify the driver's identity," Moorman recommends. "That they ask the driver to recite their name before they get in the vehicle. We ask that when they're waiting for the vehicle, make sure they wait in a safe location inside a building."

Moorman encourages students to use rideshare apps, especially as a way to avoid driving under the influence, but he wants to also encourage caution. If something doesn't feel right, he wants students to call campus security right away.

"We'd much rather be involved in the front end and to prevent an incident and or tragedy from happening than to have to deal with it afterwards," he said.