What to Know
- 'Sami's Law' passed the House of Representatives on Wednesday.
- The bipartisan legislation ‘Sami’s Law,’ requires rideshare companies like Uber and Lyft to deploy a verifiable electronic access system to match drivers with passengers before the ride begins in order to increase the safety of passengers.
- The bill is named after Samantha "Sami" Josephson, a University of South Carolina student from New Jersey who was killed last year after getting into the car of a fake Uber driver.
A rideshare law named after a University of South Carolina student from New Jersey who police say was killed by a man impersonating an Uber driver, passed the House of Representatives on Wednesday.
The bipartisan legislation "Sami’s Law," requires ride-hailing companies like Uber and Lyft to deploy a verifiable electronic access system to match drivers with passengers before the ride begins in order to increase the safety of passengers.
On March 29, 2019, Samantha “Sami” Josephson, 21, of Robbinsville Township, New Jersey, got into the car of an Uber driver impersonator in Columbia, South Carolina, police said. Josephson was then killed and her body dumped in the woods 65 miles away.
Nathaniel David Rowland was arrested and charged in Josephson’s murder.
Josephson was a senior at the University of South Carolina with hopes of continuing her education at Philadelphia's Drexel University, according to her family. Her parents, Marci and Seymour, called the passing of Sami’s Law “bittersweet.”
“It’s been emotional,” they said. “We’d much rather have Samantha sitting with us here on the couch, but to create a law so nobody else gets hurt is a good thing. It’s a huge step to get it through the House. Now we need to get the Senate to act on it hopefully soon.”
Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ), the bill’s prime sponsor, praised the efforts of Josephson’s parents in helping to get it passed.
“For over a year—especially given the pain due to the unimageable loss of their daughter—Seymour and Marci have been heroic, tenacious and extraordinarily persuasive,” Smith said. “They have been a critically important part of the often-intense negotiations with multiple stakeholders including Uber and Lyft.”
Both Uber and Lyft praised the passage of Sami’s Law.
“The Josephson family and Congressman Smith have worked tirelessly to champion Sami’s Law,” a spokesperson for Lyft wrote. “Their determination has led to today’s passage in the US House of Representatives. We have and will continue to prioritize safety within the Lyft community."
Danielle Burr, the Head of Uber Federal Affairs, said Josephson’s death left the rideshare community “heartbroken and devastated.”
“Today’s passage of ‘Sami’s Law’ is another step in the ongoing work to help improve safety on rideshare by leveraging education and technology,” she wrote. “We’re grateful for the leadership of Congressman Chris Smith, the support and collaboration of the Josephson Family and the commitment of congressional leadership on both sides of the aisle to pass 'Sami's Law.'”
In addition to setting safety requirements for rideshares, Sami’s Law includes the following:
- Establishes a 15-member advisory council that reports to the Secretary of Transportation, SAMI’s Council, which is made up of federal agency and public stakeholders to advance safety standards in the rideshare industry
- Makes it unlawful to sell or offer for sale, ride-share signage, making it more difficult for imposters to pose as a driver
- Requires a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report on incidents of assault and abuse of both passengers and drivers
- Requires the GAO to examine the nature and specifics of background checks conducted by companies as well as the standards set by states on background checks