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Rideshare drivers urge caution after South Carolina student's death

The murder of a University of South Carolina student is raising questions about what rideshare users can do to maximize their safety when using apps like Uber and Lyft.

Posted: Apr 1, 2019 6:22 PM
Updated: Apr 1, 2019 6:49 PM

EUGENE, Ore. -- The murder of a University of South Carolina student is raising questions about what rideshare users can do to maximize their safety when using apps like Uber and Lyft.

Eugene resident Rod Minarik has been driving for both Uber and Lyft for five years in Oregon and said he is heartbroken over the death of 21-year-old Samantha Josephson of New Jersey.

South Carolina police said she got into the back of a car without hesitation, thinking it was an Uber she ordered to drive her home. They said the car belonged to her killer.

RELATED: Slain University of South Carolina student died from multiple sharp force injuries, authorities say

Local rideshare drivers said this incident is tragic but could likely be prevented.

"If she would've had her friends escort her to the car," Iquo Inyeng said. "If she would've checked the license plate and checked and verified they were actually a driver, and they could be a driver. Someone could turn off their app and showed up and it wasn't."

When using Uber and Lyft, riders can see their driver's name, license plate and a photo on their phone. It's something Inyeng said you should always confirm before getting inside.

MORE: Mother of slain University of South Carolina student says suspected killer created 'a hole in our universe'

She said there's also a tracking app called "Life 360" you can download as an extra precaution.

"No matter which carrier you're with, if you turn on your location, you can have your family members track you and see exactly where you are," she said.

Along with that, drivers said you should always make sure to check the Uber and Lyft stickers on the window, but Miniark said even that can be tricky. He said anyone can go online, print stickers and put them on their car.

When all else fails, drivers said it's best to trust your gut and avoid rides that don't feel right.

"If you feel uncomfortable, don't get in the car," Minarik said. "Make a comment into your app because it is read eventually. Don't go alone by yourselves. Bring a partner with you, especially ladies at night, and sit in the back seat."

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