A recent bill by the South Carolina House will require Uber and Lyft drivers to post signs on their vehicles. This comes after the brutal murder of a passenger who got into a car thinking that it was her Uber: the 21-year-old student did not verify that the car was an Uber, and the car had no marked signage.
Up until now, it’s been optional for Uber and Lyft drivers to post signs on their vehicle, but it’s still a good idea. Having signage on the vehicle makes it easier for passengers to notice the car, and makes it safer for both the passenger and the driver. A state bill, this required signage will only be necessary in South Carolina. However, drivers in other states may also consider the advantages.
Peer-to-peer driving services have seen their share of violence, with a number of robberies, assaults, and even murders occurring. Once a passenger gets into a vehicle, they are vulnerable: they can be taken anywhere. In the case of the South Carolina student, the driver engaged the child locks so that she couldn’t get out. Drivers have also been robbed and attacked, as once someone is inside of their car, they can overpower them.
This has launched some criticism regarding the business model, which essentially relies upon two strangers putting themselves in a mutually vulnerable position and away from the potentially prying eyes of witnesses. Most of the safety is in the hands of the drivers and passengers. Drivers need to be vigilant about who they are picking up. Passengers need to make sure they verify the vehicle’s license plate and the driver’s name.
This is only one of the initiatives moving through legislature. Some politicians want vehicles even more clearly marked, potentially with lit signage, banners, or vehicle wraps. Taxi cabs have long been very clearly visible, with yellow coloring and checkered patterns, making them virtually impossible to mimic. The fear is that as ride share services become more popular, it will become even easier for individuals to pretend to be them.
Still, others question whether this bill is truly worthwhile, as someone who really wants to pretend to be an Uber or Lyft is likely going to be able to. Lawmakers argue that anything that make it harder for potential criminals is still a win.