After tragic death of student, UofSC continues to teach rideshare safety

After tragic death of student, UofSC continues to teach rideshare safety
Uber and UofSC launched a campus safety initiative last April that focuses on ensuring students avoid fake ride-share drivers. (Source: WIS)

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - Over the last six months, the University of South Carolina has worked to increase ride-share safety.

The initiative comes in the wake of student Samantha Josephson being killed six months ago. Investigators said she mistakenly got into a car she thought was her Uber ride.

Students at UofSC said they haven’t forgotten about the potential dangers of ride-sharing apps and the need to take safety measures, especially in busy places like Five Points.

“I think it made us all a lot more conscious of what we are doing and how one decision can change our lives,” Maura Barilla, a UofSC freshman said.

Barilla said UofSC Police talked about ride-share safety at orientation and in the University 101 class.

“They said make sure you check the license plate and ask them what your name is but I don’t think they’ve necessarily explicitly stated why talking about it so much but I feel like we all know and are trying to be safer,” Barilla said.

UofSC Police said they’ve taken a number of measures to make students feel safer including a designated ride-share drop-off and pickup area in the Five Points area on Santee Avenue.

UofSC Police spokesman Eric Grabski said that ride-share safety continues to be a priority.

“Is the likelihood of it happening great? No. But could it happen? Could something tragic happen again? It could so that’s really a great opportunity for us to provide this information and have meaningful conversation about how to keep yourself safe,” Grabski said.

That conversation includes telling students about a UofSC safety app called RAVE Guardian, which allows students to set timers on rides and call police through a panic button.

UofSC Police also said they are working with uber to promote safety tips for ride-share, like checking the driver’s license plate, checking the make and model of the car, and asking the driver: “What’s my name?”

“Safety in five points is a big deal and we are wanting to be on the forefront of helping students understand what they can do… what resources are available,” Grabski said.

Barilla said her parents were nervous after hearing about last year’s incident, but the incident never swayed her from the school. She said it just made her more careful.

“They really just wanted to make sure that the university was doing everything they could to keep us safe. But they also know at some point it's up to the students to stay in groups and make sure we’re not getting into cars that we don’t know,” Barilla said.

Barilla said UofSC police also talked to students about a shuttle option for students instead of taking ride-shares but that she would like to see the university emphasize the importance of staying in groups and students helping others get home safely.

Uber and UofSC launched a campus safety initiative last April that focuses on ensuring students avoid fake rideshare drivers. Uber also teamed up with the International Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators to educate college students about ride tips.

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