Uber to use PIN codes to let customers identify correct car in wake of NJ woman’s death

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Uber will start offering its customers four-digit PIN codes in order to ensure they are getting into the right vehicle.

The ride-hailing company rolled out the new feature across the U.S. and Canada Tuesday and said all riders in those two countries will be able to use PIN codes by the end of the week.

The development follows the death of 21-year-old Samantha “Sami” Josephson, a Robbinsville woman who was murdered in March after getting into the car of a man impersonating an Uber driver. Since her death, her parents have been working to make sure nothing like this ever happens to anyone else.

Seymour and Marci Josephson have been at the forefront of making sure ride-sharing is safer.

“For Samantha, she got into the car and it was too late,” Seymour Josephson says.

Samantha was attending college in South Carolina, and got into a car that she thought was her Uber. But the Chevy Impala belonged to Nathaniel Rowland, who was not an Uber driver. The rear child locks were activated, so she couldn't get out. She was found dead 90 miles away.

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The family has created signs that have been posted around New Jersey – “Ask, what’s my name. Match the license plate.” It is an effort to get ride-sharing users to pay closer attention to the vehicles they are getting inside of.

“I think that's great what Uber is doing. But for us, it's a great start, it's one company,” says Seymour.

The Josephsons say that they would like to see Lyft and other, lesser-known companies start using the PIN codes.

Uber recently reported nearly 6,000 incidents of sexual assault involving riders from 2017-2018. Recently, a woman catching an Uber from a popular bar in Trenton was assaulted by her driver after dropping her off at home. New Jersey lawmakers are now pushing a bill to mandate that ride-share companies ask prospective employees if they have been investigated for sexual assault.

“It requires these companies to keep this information and share that information,” says state Assemblyman Daniel Benson.

Members of Congress introduced a bill in October that would require drivers to have quick response codes that a rider could scan with a smartphone. The bill also seeks to prevent anyone but the ride-hailing companies from selling Uber and Lyft signs for drivers to display in their car windows.

Meanwhile, the Josephsons say to expect to see their signs at more train stations, dormitories and airports. Finally, they're pushing for all ride-share drivers in every state to be required to have front license plates to help a customer identify a car. The car that picked up Samantha did not have a front plate.

The Associated Press wire services contributed to this report.

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