Last week, a South Carolina college student named Samantha Josephson was murdered after she mistook a black sedan for her Uber ride. A petition is now calling on Uber and Lyft to add QR codes on ride-hailing cars so users can confirm the drivers inside are, indeed, legit.
The petition comes from Sydney Ford, a classmate of Josephson, who was allegedly killed by a man she thought was her Uber driver. Following her death, Josephson’s family has called on Uber and Lyft to learn from the incident and add safeguards to help passengers verify their drivers.
The University of South Carolina, where Josephson was a student, also sent a letter to students, urging them to never enter a ride-sharing vehicle without confirming it’s the right car. Students can do this by looking at the vehicle’s license plate, make and model, and matching it with data provided by the app. Ask your driver “What’s my name?” instead of saying “Are you here for [your name]”?
“If s/he doesn’t say your name, DO NOT get into the vehicle,” the letter reads. The tip has sparked the safety campaign #WhatsMyName, which campus students and Josephson’s sorority are promoting.
Ford’s petition on Change.org proposes Uber and Lyft add another way to confirm drivers with the inclusion of QR codes. “Scanning a QR code on the window of the passenger side of your Uber/Lyft would instantly verify for both parties that you are the right person,” she wrote in her petition. “In addition, it could be used as a tool to ‘check in’ your ride and alert others that you are in the car.”
“I am by no means faulting these companies for this situation because the only person to blame is the man who kidnapped and murdered Sami,” she added. “However, a lot of people would feel much more safe with this in place.”
So far, Uber and Lyft haven’t commented on the petition, which has received more than 32,000 signatures in two days. However, Uber told BuzzFeed it has been working with law enforcement and college campuses to raise awareness about fake ride-hailing drivers. The company also plans to roll out new push notifications that’ll remind passengers to make sure they’re getting into the right vehicle when the car is approaching.
In the meantime, South Carolina lawmakers have reportedly introduced a bill to require ride-sharing app drivers to display an “illuminated sign” to mark their vehicles.