Annual 5K helps promote rideshare safety and honor slain NJ woman
ROBBINSVILLE — On March 29, 2019, 21-year-old Robbinsville resident and University of South Carolina senior, Samantha Josephson was kidnapped and brutally murdered when she mistook a car for her Uber.
The murder attracted national attention, which led to the passing of laws ensuring that a rideshare vehicle is being driven by a legitimate, registered driver.
Since then, Sami’s parents, Seymour and Marci Josephson have established the #WhatsMyName Foundation, dedicated to educating others on the importance of rideshare safety, and making sure this doesn’t happen to someone else’s child.
What is the #WhatsMyName mission?
The mission of the foundation is to educate the world on rideshare safety, support charitable organizations and provide college scholarships to selected high school seniors, according to Sami’s dad, Seymour Josephson.
In addition, the foundation is also in the process of trying to drive down the number of sexual assaults, which have been very rampant between popular rideshare companies, Uber and Lyft, Josephson said.
In 2017 and 2018, there were over 10,000 incidents of sexual assaults reported and over 29 deaths, he said.
Sami’s murder led to the passage of Sami’s Law in New Jersey in June 2019. Gov. Phil Murphy signed the law which requires more identification on ride-share vehicles.
“Today, New Jersey has the safest rideshare law,” Josephson said.
The drivers must have a placard on the rear car window. The placard features a QR code that has information about the driver, the make and model of the car, the license plate, and the picture of the driver. He added that when you put the phone up to the QR code and scan it, it will confirm the driver’s identity.
“I will also say that Uber has a four-digit pin. It’s called Verify My Ride and that is as well, a safer platform to use outside of New Jersey,” Josephson said.
Legislation at the federal level is still pending.
What is the #WhatsMyName run and walk?
On Saturday, Sept. 24, the #WhatsMyName Foundation will host its 3rd annual 5K Run and 1-mile walk starting at 9 a.m. at Gazebo Park in Robbinsville.
Josephson said it’s just a fun day for the community to get together, honor Sami, get some exercise, and help educate everyone on rideshare safety.
He said there will be tables set up with information about the foundation, Sami, and merchandise, such as t-shirts for sale. Plus, there will be giveaways and grab bags as well.
There is a rock garden that the township built in memory of his daughter that people can visit.
Registration for the run/walk can be found on the foundation’s website.
Fundraisers from events like the run and walk allow Josephson to travel the country, meet police chiefs of colleges, and go to a conference in Las Vegas featuring security for airports in the United States and Canada and educate them on the importance of rideshare safety.
“We hear from people across the United States, from Seattle, Hawaii, California, and across the world in places like South Africa. They want information and education and that is what we try to do. That is why we do documentaries to spread the word and to spread the Sami message, help others, and keep Sami’s name and her picture out there,” Josephson said.
What does S-A-M-I stand for?
The acronym S-A-M-I (Stop. Ask. Match. Inform) is found on all the educational materials used by the #WhatsMyName Foundation and the message that Sami’s parents live by every single day. They hope you will do the same before getting into a ride-share vehicle.
Stop: Plan ahead. Before requesting a ride, think about where you’re headed and review the safety features in the app so you know how to use them.
Ask: Ask your driver, “what’s my name” to confirm they have booked a trip with you through the ride-sharing app.
Match: Match the make, model, and license plate of the car with the one displayed in the app.
Inform: Share the details of your trip with a friend. Utilize the “share status” function in the ride-sharing app.
A powerful statement that Mr. Josephson and his wife stand by, can be seen across their educational materials and on the foundation’s website.
“Before you get in a ride share ask, “What’s my name? and remember hers.”
Jen Ursillo is a reporter and anchor for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org
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