Uber has launched an initiative to increase customer safety on college campuses in the wake of the murder last month of a student waiting for a ride.
The ride-hailing service said Thursday it's partnering with the University of South Carolina on its Campus Safety Initiative, a national effort to educate students on how to avoid fake rideshare drivers. Uber said it was heartbroken by the murder of 21-year-old Samantha Josephson, who was found dead March 31 after she mistakenly got into a car she thought was her Uber ride.
"While no words can alleviate the loss felt by the Josephson family, we are committed to continuing to take action to make our communities safer," Andrew Macdonald, Uber's vice president of operations for the Americas, said in a statement. "We want every rider to be safe when using Uber."
Getting into a car with a stranger would've been unheard of just five years ago, but it's become the norm as ride-hailing companies like Uber and Lyft have gained popularity. But predators have taken advantage of this situation. A woman flung herself from a moving car in Las Vegas last year after being abducted by a fake Uber driver, according to ABC.
Uber's initiative aims to increase awareness of its Check Your Ride steps, a program Uber launched in 2017 to avoid rideshare scams by reminding users to double-check the identity of their driver and license plate of the Uber vehicle hired, which is sent to customers through the app. Support for campus rides programs at universities across the country is also part of the plan.
The partnership intends to increase safety awareness through emails to customers, college campus newspaper ads and social media posts. It also bundles in #Don'tStandBy, a bystander intervention initiative launched in 2018 that encourages members of the nightlife community to keep an eye on each other.
The program's campus-based initiatives include creating dedicated pickup zones that are well-lit and have law enforcement close at hand. Uber also plans to create a tool that helps universities provide students with after-hours rides.
"Our goal is to make checking your ride before you get in the car synonymous with using Uber," Macdonald said.