NC State student inspires new rideshare passenger protection legislation

North Carolina

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — For NC State Senior Natalie Truby, she often uses rideshare companies, like Uber and Lyft, to get around. 

“I would say, as a college student, an average of once a week,” Truby said. 

Earlier this year, she learned about Samantha Josephson, a University of South Carolina student, killed after getting in a car she thought was her Uber ride.

“I was thinking she’s about my age,” Truby said. “This could happen to me so easily if I wasn’t paying attention to my Uber, and it could cost you your life.”

This led Truby to encourage state lawmakers  to create House Bill 391, also known as the Passenger Protection Act.

The bill lists safety rideshare drivers must have their license plate information on the front of their car, as well as lighted signs. 

According to State Rep. John Bell, if drivers don’t comply, they could face a fine of $250 dollar fine. 

Bell said the bill also states if someone impersonates a driver, it’s a misdemeanor. If it’s done with intent to do harm, Bell said it’s a Class H felony. 

Raleigh Police Department released this statement to CBS 17 Monday regarding the Passenger Protection Act:

“As with all new laws, Raleigh Police Department officers will be made aware of this law and will enforce it accordingly.” 

— Raleigh Police Department

We’re working with rideshare companies that they’ll be able to publicize this and get the information out there,” Rep. Bell said. “[We’re] also working with law enforcement to know that there is a new law on the books, and that it needs to be enforced.”

While Truby is happy to see the bill signed into law, she believes riders should also be accountable. 

“I think that the rider is partially responsible, if not mostly responsible, for making sure that they do check the license plate, they do check the description on the car,” she said. 

A spokeswoman with Lyft released this statement to CBS 17 on HB 391: 

“We are supportive of the measures laid out in the Passenger Protection Act and thank Leader Bell and the rest of the North Carolina Legislature for their engagement and open discussion throughout the process. Safety is fundamental to Lyft, which is why we have worked hard to design policies and features that protect both drivers and riders. We look forward to partnering with policymakers to implement and comply with this legislation.” 

— Lyft

A spokeswoman with Uber released this statement to CBS 17 on HB 391: 

“We appreciate efforts to strengthen safety, and our hearts remain with Samantha Josephson’s family and loved ones. We will continue working with the North Carolina Department of Transportation, legislators, and universities to raise awareness and help ensure riders and drivers take the most effective steps to stay safe.”   

— Uber

Maj. David Kelly with NC State Police told CBS 17 they’ll review the law and come up with a plan of how to enforce it. 

According to Bell, rideshare drivers must have license plate information by October, and lighted signs must be in place by July 1, 2020. 

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