PHILADELPHIA (CBS/AP) – Uber is releasing a new feature to help riders ensure they’re getting into the right vehicles. The development comes several weeks after University of South Carolina student and New Jersey native, 21-year-old Samantha Josephson, was killed after getting into a car she had mistaken for the Uber ride she hailed.
The ride sharing company said Thursday it will begin to send push alerts reminding riders to check the license plate number, car make and model, and compare the name and photo of the driver who shows up, before getting into a vehicle. Uber will also make the safety reminder information available on a banner within the app.
Uber said the alerts will first roll out in Columbia, South Carolina, as part of a broader “campus safety initiative” done in partnership with the university. The update is expected to roll out nationwide in the coming days.
Josephson was almost finished with college when she went out with friends in Columbia’s bar district. She became separated from the group and ordered an Uber to take her home around 1:30 a.m. on March 29, authorities said.
The driver of the car she mistakenly got into had activated the child safety locks in the backseat, trapping her in the car, authorities said.
“We don’t want this to be something you forget, but we also don’t want it to be something that ends in sorrow, but something that ends in education,” said Harris Pastides, president of the University of South Carolina, in an interview.
Pastides has mistakenly gotten into the wrong Uber himself, and believes the new push notification will save lives, he said.
Uber is sending emails to every rider to outline the steps to make sure they’re getting into the right car.
Uber also revamped its background check policy to conduct annual checks on drivers. The company ultimately announced it would do away with a policy that previously forced individuals with sexual-assault complaints into arbitration and made them sign non-disclosure agreements.
(© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)