Legislation sponsored by Senators Patrick Diegnan and Linda Greenstein and Assembly members Daniel Benson, Wayne DeAngelo and Valerie Vainieri Huttle to improve customer identification of rideshare drivers and their vehicles.
In South Carolina, Samantha Josephson, 21, ordered an Uber and mistakenly got into a car she thought was her ride. The driver used the childproof locks in his car to imprison Josephson before killing her and leaving her about 65 miles from Columbia.
The bill addresses safety concerns raised as a result of this tragic occurrence.
“Words cannot express the gratitude I have for the Josephson family for their courage in advancing this essential legislation. It’s a tragedy we had to lose a young person with a promising career in order address the issue of rider safety,” said Senator Diegnan (D-Middlesex). “The bill will educate and protect users and hopefully prevent future incidents from ever occurring again.”
Greenstein, Benson and DeAngelo (All D-Mercer, Middlesex) are the legislative representatives of the 14th district where Samantha grew up and her family still resides.
“By placing a greater emphasis on visual safeguards, riders would be able to identify key items to confirm they are entering a credentialed ridesharing vehicle,” said Senator Greenstein. “Ridesharing services have become increasingly popular and Sami’s tragedy could have happened to anyone. This bill would honor Sami’s life and help promote public safety.”
“This is a tragedy that should never happen again. We’ve learned a lot through the testimony received today,” said Assemblyman Benson. “I believe, as policymakers, we must take the necessary steps to strengthen the safety of these services for customers. With the passage of this legislation, New Jersey leads the nation with stricter regulations for rideshare services.”
“What Seymour and Marci Josephson and their family have endured with the loss of their daughter Sami is a hardship that no family should face,” said Assemblyman DeAngelo. “No one should ever be concerned for the safety of themselves or their loved ones when using these services. We must make sure that as these services continue to develop we are constantly working together to make sure customers are served safely and responsibly.”
“The bottom line is rideshare services must be safe for both the rider and the driver,” said Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen). “New Jersey should focus on improving identification tools used by customers to recognize their driver and the vehicle. We have to do more to protect New Jersey residents; this cannot happen here. This bill takes us one step closer to achieving that goal.”
According to a Pew Survey, 36% of U.S. adults have used a transportation network company; this figure is up from 15% in a similar study from late 2015. It also found that just over half (51%) of adults from age 18 to 29 have used a transportation network company.
Under the bill, a transportation network company (TNC) is directed to provide to every driver that utilizes its digital network a two-dimensional barcode or other technology that is unique to that driver and to that driver’s personal vehicle. This barcode is to be used for identification purposes when providing prearranged rides and may be scanned by a rider to confirm the identity of the driver and the personal vehicle. A TNC would be required to provide to every driver that utilizes its digital network two copies of the two-dimensional barcode within 180 days of the enactment of this bill.
The bill is now poised for further consideration on the Senate and Assembly floor in both houses.