EDITORIAL: Tragedy must be followed by legislation
Rideshare industry must be regulated to improve safety of riders
On Wednesday, April 3, hundreds gathered in West Windsor, New Jersey to mourn the death of Samantha Josephson, a 21-year-old from Robbinsville, New Jersey who was kidnapped and killed in South Carolina after she had gotten into a car she had thought was her Uber. Her years left unlived were stolen, but her legacy remains in the lives she touched and the policies now proposed to make it harder for such tragedies to happen again.
A bill has now been introduced in the South Carolina Legislature in an attempt to address the problems of the rideshare industry. The Samantha L. Josephson Ridesharing Safety Act would require drivers to have a clearly visible display that illuminates when active and identifies their ridesharing company. The drivers would subsequently be required to return the signage when they stop their work with the ridesharing company.
Co-sponsor of the bill Rep. Micah Caskey (R-N.C.) tweeted: “Nothing is ever going to stop psychos from doing psycho things, but if we can take one step to make it harder for psychos to be psychos, we should do it.”
With much of the nation gripped by her death, there has been a heightened scrutiny of ridesharing services as many look to improve the safety of the fast-growing industry. Seymour Josephson, Samantha Josephson’s father, has become a widely-heard voice advocating for new preventative measures.
“What he did, I don’t want anyone else to go through it as a parent,” Seymour Josephson said Tuesday. “We want something to change.”
Changes must be made. The responsibility of the governing body of society is to ensure public welfare. It is the duty of representatives to not only be responsive to the flaws of certain markets, but also be proactive in preventing the repercussions of these flaws.
The New Jersey state government requires rideshare drivers be prohibited from working in the industry if “they had been convicted of homicide, sexual assault, driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, reckless driving and possession or sale of a controlled dangerous substance.” The drivers must complete a background check, but the mandated process falls short of requiring the companies to interview or fingerprint prospective drivers.
Also, because these companies have made explicit efforts to classify their drivers as independent contractors rather than employees, avoiding the regulations and laws that are tied with the latter, they cannot be compelled to provide safety training.
While New Jersey does require an “identifying marker” be displayed, there is no requirement that reflects the proposed changes in the Samantha L. Josephson Ridesharing Safety Act.
To improve the safety of New Jerseyans and uphold the duty as representatives, the State Assembly ought to follow in the lead of South Carolina and pass similar law requiring a clearly visible and illuminate indication. We must not allow for the darkness of the night to embolden the dangers that exploit opportunities to carry out terrible evils.
There must be pressure on the rideshare companies to have a mandatory policy of verbal recognition prior to the rider entering the vehicle. Simple procedural protocol measures ought to be made.
As the State University of New Jersey, Rutgers must also be responsive to the loss of one of our own. An expansive information campaign educating the community on safety tips such as how to avoid fake rideshare drivers is a fundamentally important and easy step to improve safety on campus.
When tragedy strikes, we must respond.
The Daily Targum's editorials represent the views of the majority of the 151st editorial board. Columns, cartoons and letters do not necessarily reflect the views of the Targum Publishing Company or its staff.