Students weigh in on new ride-sharing bill

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Across North Carolina, lawmakers unveiled a bill Thursday to improve ride-sharing safety.

If passed, the Passenger Protection Act will require drivers to display a consistent and distinctive illuminated sign on their vehicles.

The goal of the bill is to make ride-sharing cars easier to identify for passengers.

Currently, most Ubers in the area are only identified by a small sticker in the windshield.

This comes in the wake of the recent abduction and murder of University of South Carolina student Samantha Josephson.

“We used to probably do Uber maybe 20 or more times a semester,” East Carolina University student Jazmine Fitts said. “Ever since that thing happened with [Josephson], we have never got in one because we are too scared.”

Josephson was killed after she called an Uber and accidentally got in the wrong car.

“People take Ubers because they are drinking. If someone is way too intoxicated, they may not know,” Fitts said. “They could accidentally get in a random car.”

“That can happen any day of the week,” ECU student Lexi Shadyac added. “I feel like most of us didn’t take the precaution that everyone is now.”

As students aim to be safer, lawmakers are pushing a bill forcing transportation network companies to require drivers to display a consistent and distinctive illuminated light.

Representative John Bell said it would make it easier for passengers to identify the vehicles.

“It is a public safety concern,” Bell said. “When the driver no longer works for the company, they must return the sign within 10 days. If they do not comply, the ride-share company must report the driver’s name and last known address to law enforcement.”

Students said the bill is a step in the right direction.

“I think it will help completely,” Fitts said. “It would kind of be like a pizza delivery truck with the big sign. It’s up there, and you know exactly what it is.”

“I do think it would make it more safe and secure by using them and knowing what car we are getting into,” Shadyac said. “Everyone is trying to be more safe about what they are doing because you don’t know what is out there and what can happen to you.”

Bell said if the bill is passed, it does not relieve individual passenger responsibility of correctly identifying the vehicle’s make, model and license plate number.

He said passengers should also confirm the driver’s name, and make sure the driver knows the passenger’s name.

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