Safety Spotlight: How to Navigate your Driver

Need a ride? For some, it becomes time to call an Uber or Lyft, well-known transportation networks that are reliable for returning their passengers home and in safety. However, on March 29th, Samantha Josephson, a 21 year-old girl from New Jersey attending the University of South Carolina, was murdered by who she believed was her Uber driver. (Flip to the article on Page 1 to uncover the details.)

An unsettling question lingered after Josephson’s tragic killing. Are these transportation companies responsible if a passenger enters an incorrect and unconnected vehicle? Unfortunately, doubtful.

After talking with the Ramapo student body, many have concerned their account and frequent rides with either Uber, Lyft, or both. The disturbing truth that followed the incident has made passengers think differently before entering a servicing vehicle from these transportation outlets. Safety tips have flooded the Internet, and sharing them with our school community seems absolutely necessary to avoid making an easy mistake.

First, users should be aware that Uber and Lyft companies have tight background checks on their drivers before they are hired. Once a user downloads the app, he or she must request a drop-off destination to receive a connecting driver. The user is responsible for navigating inside the car of the correct driver. On the app, information will be shared with the user, which is accessible before entering the vehicle and during the ride. Then, it will be saved in the rider’s history once the job is complete. This important information includes the name of the driver, their current location (which ends shortly after the ride), their type of car, and the license plate number.

Think twice before you even buckle up. Equally as important, always check the license plate of the vehicle before entering the car, and make sure it matches the number on the app. Once I heard of the mistake that led to the death of Samantha Josephson, my heart dropped as my first thought was, ‘Could this happen to me?’ Giving your name to the driver is easy in asking assuming questions. Commonly, riders like Samantha have asked, “Is this my Uber? Is this for Samantha?” Lying and then shaking their head ‘yes’, a complete stranger School Schemes By Patricia Redulla Distribution Manager The class of 2019 faced some record-breaking statistics this year. Everyone knows the difficulty of acceptance into schools of high prestige. However, the explosion of the college scandal that was brewing throughout the month of March did not assist anyone’s case. Federal prosecutors charged several celebrities in a scheme to get students into distinguished schools. The pressure rises for students to obtain admission into elite universities. According to The New York Times, the collusion has been referred to as the “largest college admissions scam ever prosecuted by the Department of Justice.” It has been found that a myriad number of parents utilized bribes for their children to gain a spot. William Singer, businessman and leader of the scandal, has done it all. From changing standardized test scores to planting lies in student biographies, he controlled all of the activity. It is heartbreaking to see this happen because students around the globe are pour all their energy into admission to their dream school only to have spots taken away. At least, Singer has fortunately pleaded guilty. Along with him, a number of celebrities have been found to be part of this intrigue, including actress Felicity Huffman. While Huffman has agreed to take a plea, some other celebrities, such as Lori Loughlin, the mother of social media celebrity Olivia Jade, are deny their involvement. The upsetting part of it is the damage to the children. Some students did not know their parents bought their entry into college; they thought they were gaining an equitable spot. Coaches from Wake Forest to Georgetown took part in suggesting that these students were the best athletes when they did not even play the sport; they went so far as to photoshop faces onto athletes. Furthermore, the system was fueled by the parents. The New York Times indicates that parents paid as much as $75,000 for higher test scores. Someone else would take the test for their kid; the proctor would change the answers. Pretty crazy, right? It’s unfathomable that parents have hurt their children in this way. Nothing can be taken back; imagine being the child not knowing about your parents doing this at all. It’s unnecessary suffering. The payments went to Singer’s company and were masked as “donations” to the university. The case is now definitely at higher stakes than it ever was before for admissions counselors. Maya Sienkiewicz, a senior at Ramapo says, “This college scandal is shocking!” Is the system really trustworthy, or has the bias gone overboard? The future of the students is still in a hazy area, as some might still be punished, and parents are facing prison sentences along with coaches; there are more they might prosecute too according to the Los Angeles Times. The U.S. Department of Education is also doing its own investigations. From the race cases with Harvard in the beginning of the year to Landry’s school, the admissions system needs to get it together. This case is a sign of many factors: equality, parenting, college admissions, and more. Hopefully, this ends, so future applicants are not at a disadvantage; school schemes need to stop. William Singer after leaving court on March 12 Photo Courtesy of The Sacramento Bee could take advantage of this vulnerable information. Instead, rephrase your question, and ask ‘Who is this ride for?’ to ensure the correct vehicle. And finally, ride in the vehicle with friends rather than being alone with the driver. Ramapo senior Lilah Celentano, who is active on both Uber and Lyft, advises that, “Never leave your friends behind, especially in a metropolitan area where the city streets are crowded with traffic and strangers.”

Samantha’s incident led me to confessing my own fears to others about using transportation outlets like Uber or Lyft. This remains a perfect opportunity to cast light on safety, since the topic is often overlooked and forgotten until an aversive event occurs. Ramapo, please remember to spread and instill this advice before using such online car services in order to ensure safety among our friends and family in the FLOW community.

By: Caroline Kinkella, Editor in Chief

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