Calling an Uber or a Lyft has become a part of our everyday lives. It’s just so easy.

But now, a University of South Carolina student is dead after getting into a car that she thought was her Uber. Samantha Josephson’s body was found 90 miles away from Columbia, where she originally called the car on Friday.

USC student Samantha Josephson. (Photo Courtesy/Columbia Police Department)

Nathaniel David Rowland, 24, has been arrested on charges of murder and kidnapping in connection with Josephson’s death.

What Does This Mean For Riders?

In the wake of her death, frequent users of ride-sharing apps may be wondering how to keep themselves safe.

University of Georgia student Jacqueline Kniejski said after hearing about the USC student, she will change the way she approaches any car that claims to be her Uber or Lyft.

“I’ve tried to get more into the habit of asking who are you here for,” she said.

Bobby Cullars has been driving for both Uber and Lyft in the Athens area for three and a half years. He said people still get into his car without verifying any of his information.

Check and see if that’s the right person who is supposed to be picking you up. If the face don’t match, don’t get in the car,” Cullars said.

Keeping Yourself Safe

To be safe when using ride-sharing apps, you should:

  • Check the license tag to see if it matches the car sent your way.
  • Make sure the driver’s face and the make of the car matches the information on the app.
  • Use the tracking feature on the Uber app. Go to settings, manage trusted contacts, and add the person who you want to track you.
  • Use the ‘Send ETA’ feature on the Lyft app. This will send your friend or family member a text with your current route and location. It also allows them to see a photo of the driver, vehicle make and model and license plate number.

Kniejski worries what happened to Josephson could happen to anyone.

“That could have been me. That could have been my roommates because we all just kind of get in an Uber and assume it’s an Uber,” Kniejski said.

Sarah Hammond is a senior journalism student in the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Georgia.

 

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