Politics & Government

SC lawmakers file bill to make Uber, Lyft pickups safer after USC student’s slaying

A Democratic state lawmaker will file a bill Tuesday to make it easier for riders to identify Uber and Lyft vehicles, days after a University of South Carolina student was killed because she mistook the wrong car for her Uber.

The proposal would require drivers for popular ridesharing apps like Uber and Lyft to display illuminated stickers on their windshields. Currently, only reflective stickers are required under S.C. law.

“I’m just sick about this,” said state Rep. Seth Rose, the Columbia Democrat who will file the bill and lives a quarter-mile from the Five Points curb where 21-year-old Samantha Josephson was picked up early Friday morning.

Police have charged 24-year-old Nathaniel Rowland with kidnapping and killing Josephson after she climbed into his car. Authorities have said hunters found her body about 40 feet from a rural dirt road in Clarendon County.

Rose’s proposal represents the first legislative response to Josephson’s death, which rocked the USC and Columbia communities over the weekend.

The bill, which Rose plans to name the Samantha L. Josephson Ridesharing Safety Act, has bipartisan support. Republican state Rep. Micah Caskey of Lexington plans to sign on as a cosponsor, he confirmed on Twitter.

Some Uber and Lyft drivers already have illuminated displays, but they are costlier and far less common than the reflective sticker, according to the S.C. Office of Regulatory Staff, which regulates passenger transportation in South Carolina, including rideshare apps and taxis.

Uber and Lyft did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Seymour Josephson, Samantha’s father, has said he plans to put pressure on those ridesharing companies to better identify their vehicles.

“Samantha was by herself,” he said at a candlelight vigil at USC Sunday night. “She had absolutely no chance.”

Avery G. Wilks is The State’s senior S.C. State House and politics reporter. He was named the 2018 S.C. Journalist of the Year by the South Carolina Press Association. He grew up in Chester, S.C., and graduated from the University of South Carolina’s top-ranked Honors College in 2015.