New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D) signed a rideshare safety law Thursday named after a college student who was murdered after getting into a car that she thought was her Uber.
“Sami’s Law,” which will take effect in March 2020, will mandate that rideshare drivers in the state place illuminated signs and digital barcodes on their vehicles. Violators would be subject to a $250 fine.
“Every day, thousands of rideshare passengers entrust drivers to get them to and from home, school, and work safely and without delay,” Murphy said in a release. “Just one unscrupulous mind seeking to take advantage of those passengers is one too many, and it is our responsibility to keep riders safe.”
Samantha Josephson, a New Jersey native and a 21-year-old student at the University of South Carolina (USC), was last seen March 29 outside a bar at about 2 a.m. She had called for an Uber and got into a black car that she mistakenly thought was the driver picking her up.
The next day, her body was found about 90 miles away. A man has been charged with her murder.
Murphy was joined by Josephson’s family as he signed the bill, with her mother calling the moment “bittersweet,” according to the release.
New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez (D) also praised the legislation in a statement: “As ride-share services grow in popularity, we have a responsibility to address gaps in public safety, and Sami’s Law aims to do just that.”
Menendez and Sen. Cory Booker (D) are co-sponsoring a bill in the U.S. Senate that would require all states to mandate rideshare vehicles to have illuminated signs. Companion legislation, also named “Sami’s Law,” has also been introduced in the House.
In a statement, New Jersey Rep. Chris Smith (D), who represents the district in which the Josephsons live and who authored the federal proposal, praised the state for being the "first state to pass legislation that mirrors the federal version of Sami's Law" and expressed hope to "see enactment of a federal Sami’s Law so that ride-share customers are equally protected in all 50 states.
Last month, South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster (R) signed a law, named the Samantha L. Josephson Ridesharing Safety Act, that requires rideshare drivers to display their license plate number on the front of their vehicles.
Since Josephson’s death, Uber introduced a new set of campus safety measures to help students avoid fake rideshare drivers.