Columbia Mayor proposes city rideshare regulations in wake of USC student death

Weeks after University of South Carolina student Samantha Josephson was killed after getting into a car she believed was an Uber, Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin called for stronger regulation of ride-sharing companies within the Palmetto State’s capital city.

Benjamin’s proposed regulations included city inspection of all ride-sharing vehicles, designated pick-up points,  and better lighting at pick-up locations, according to a statement sent out Monday. The mayor proposed that no one out on bond for domestic violence or any other crime with a maximum penalty of more than a year in prison be allowed to operate Ubers or Lyfts.

The proposal also included a stipulation that no ride-sharing cars should be allowed to use child safety locks unless a child is in the car and his or her parents allowed it, according to the statement. Investigators said Josephson was trapped in the car the night she died because the child locks were on.

The South Carolina State House is well on its way to passing stricter rideshare regulations as well. 

Last week, the House passed a bill that would require Uber and Lyft drivers to have an illuminated sign to make their cars easier to identify. The Senate has yet to pass the bill. 

Josephson’s parents lauded the bill during an appearance Monday on “Good Morning America,” but called for other changes as well, including requiring front license plates and adding QR or bar codes to ride-sharing vehicles. 

Emily Bohatch helps cover South Carolina’s government for The State. She also updates The State’s databases. Her accomplishments include winning a Green Eyeshade award in Disaster Reporting in 2018 for her teamwork reporting on Hurricane Irma. She has a degree in Journalism with a minor in Spanish from Ohio University’s E. W. Scripps School of Journalism.