ROCK HILL, S.C. (FOX 46 CHARLOTTE) - South Carolina Uber and Lyft drivers will have to display their license plate numbers in their front windshield, if a rideshare safety bill is passed, aimed at helping passengers correctly identify the ride they hired.
On Tuesday, lawmakers scrapped a proposal that would have required rideshare drivers display a light up sign in their car. Uber requested the change. Company spokesman Trevor Theunissen told the senators that Uber riders are sent the tag number of their ride and it would be nearly impossible for a fake driver to duplicate it, unlike the lighted company signs that are for sale online.
The proposal comes nearly a month after the murder of University of South Carolina senior Samantha Josephson. Police say she was killed by a man she mistook her for her Uber driver. After her murder, Uber rolled out new safety features and lawmakers started looking at additional measures as well.
"I think it's a really good idea," said Winthrop University student Allyssa Lewis, whose friends also praised the proposal. "Anything to increase safety for the users."
Zaria Hamilton, a junior at the Rock Hill, S.C. university, says she uses Uber several times a month. She always cehcks the car's license plate first to make sure it matches the one shown on the app, she said.
"Being a college student," said Hamilton, "you never know what could happen."
Uber did not comment on the license plate proposal but said safety is a top priority.
"Our hearts remain with the Josephson family," said Uber spokeswoman Evaneline George. "Many ideas have been raised and we are always looking to build on our core safety features, such as the license plate, car make and model,a nd driver photo shown in the ap prior to the trip. We will continue working with legislators, law enforcement, and universities to focus on the most effective measures to put safety first."
Lyft praised the idea arguing license plates are the safest, easiest and most effective way to identify a ride.
"We're glad that South Carolina lawmakers recognie the impact requiring front license plates will have on strengthening rider and driver safety," said Lyft spokeswoman Campbell Matthews. "The best way for riders to identify their Lyft ride is to match the license plate number shown in the app with the license plate of the arriving vehicle. This is why it is critical for regulators to require both front and rear license plates for every car registered in the state."
South Carolina does not have front facing license plates so the license plate number would be displayed on a sign, or written on paper, and displayed in the front windshield.
"I definitely would want my friends to be safe," said Lewis, "and this is just a good way to make sure you're getting in the right car and that [what happened to Josephson] never happens again."