Free shipping on all orders over $75🎄

Last weekend, 21-year-old University of South Carolina student Samantha Josephson called for an Uber after leaving the popular college’s Five Point entertainment district around 2 a.m. 

What happened next is a every parent’s worst nightmare. Josephson got into a car that was not the Uber ride she had called for, but instead was driven by a predator.

She was found dead in a rural field three hours later, and her killer, the one who easily picked her up by impersonating an Uber driver, was arrested and charged with first degree murder.

Strangely enough, when I sent my kids to college without cars, ride services such as Uber and Lyft were the one thing giving me some comfort. I was overjoyed that we could save money on car insurance, gas, parking tickets, and other car-related expenses, and I was even more at peace that the chances of one of my sons driving drunk was greatly reduced because there was always a “safe” ride around the corner. Literally.

Visit any college campus and its surrounding bar scene, and there are Ubers lined up at the ready prepared to shuttle students safely home just mere minutes after they’re requested. No more standing around for an hour while waiting for a taxi, and students can even request vehicles that are able to accommodate several students at once. I often see several Uber charges on my credit card for amounts under $2.00, my son explaining to me, “It’s when a bunch of us share an Uber van home. It’s the cheapest way to go. We do it all the time!”

And therein lies the problem. Our young adults have grown so accustomed to the convenience, ease, and availability of ride services, they’ve become immune to the fact there are still potential dangers involved.

But those dangers aren’t limited to what an Uber or Lyft driver has the ability to do to a passenger; those dangers have become something else entirely. You see, because ride services like these have become so commonplace on campuses, when large groups of students go out to drink, they have no need for a designated driver. That means everyone in the group can and probably will be drinking, and all without one person staying sober.

But designated drivers do more than just drive. By staying sober, they’re also the remaining voice of reason and judgment, and can ensure everyone gets home safely—even when it’s with a ride share service. When the evening drinking plans include everyone just being able to get a ride home with Uber, everyone partakes, which means nobody is clear-headed enough to ensure the rides home are legitimate and safe.

We can remind students over and over again about all the ways they can check and double-check how to verify it is an actual Uber vehicle, but when their judgment is clouded, how can we expect them to have the wherewithal to even remember, let alone go through all the safety tips?

This week, in the aftermath of the Josephson tragedy, lawmakers in South Carolina have proposed a bill that would make it easier for riders to identify Uber and Lyft cars. The proposal would require drivers to display illuminated stickers on their windshields. Under current law, only reflective decals are required. The bill, which was filed by Representative Seth Rose, who lives just minutes from where Josephson was picked up, plans to name it the Samantha L. Josephson Ridesharing Safety Act. Seymour Josephson, Samantha’s father, supports the bill, and said he plans to put pressure on those ridesharing companies to better identify their vehicles.

He stated, “Samantha was by herself, she had absolutely no chance.”

By herself.  

That may be the single most crucial aspect we can take away from this as parents and students.

Samantha Josephson was alone at the time she was picked up by her killer, and whether or not she was drinking or her judgment was impaired doesn’t really matter, but her being alone absolutely does.

If you’re a college student and you’re reading this, it’s imperative you never leave someone in your nighttime partying crowd alone to get home on their own. Never. If you’re a young man, it’s your responsibility to escort the females home, to make sure they’re not getting into any car alone with a stranger, and to most definitely  accompany them if you all choose to use a ride share service. If you’re a young woman, it’s your responsibility to watch out for yourself and your friends, and to never assume they can get home safely alone.

And even though you all won’t need a sober member or designated driver to get everyone home, it’s still a smart and safe idea for someone in the group to STAY SOBER. 

Look at it this way: you can think of them not a designated driver, but as a designated rider.

So God Made a Mother book by Leslie Means

If you liked this, you'll love our new book, SO GOD MADE A MOTHER available now!

Order Now

Melissa Fenton

Melissa Fenton is a freelance writer, adjunct librarian, and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital Awareness Ambassador. She writes at Her writing can be found all over the internet, but her work is mostly on the dinner table.

A Backpack and a Father’s Love

In: Grown Children, Living
Yellow backpack

My grandma’s standard answer when it came time to discuss upcoming events, holidays, or family gatherings was the following, “I’ll be there . . . if I’m still here.” “See you at Christmas, Grandma!” Or, “Can’t wait to come visit this summer.” Or, “Wow, it will be so exciting to have you at our wedding.” “I’ll be there . . . if I’m still here,” was always her response. And the thing is, for a very long time, she was. She enjoyed nearly 90 years and took in every possible moment when it came to time with family and friends....

Keep Reading

When Mama Doesn’t Love

In: Grown Children, Living, Motherhood
Little girl, black and white photo

She is nine years old, squeezed into the far corner of the bathtub, fully clothed, legs folded to her chest. She feels the slap-slap sting of the belt. She disobeyed. Her heartbeat roars in her head, and she wonders if she will die this time. Her heart aches from the words. Silent tears fall, and the words and the strap stop. She sees red welts on her arms and legs but feels only the numbness of her empty heart. She slowly rises to hide in her spot in the shed. She pulls out her diary and writes. The words her...

Keep Reading

You’re the Mother-in-Law I Dream of Being One Day

In: Grown Children, Motherhood
Grandmother holding baby with big sister looking on, color photo

To my dear mother-in-law, Thank you for showing me that good mothers-in-law really do exist. I hear so often about the stereotypical mother-in-law who ends up alienating her daughters-in-law. You are not one of those. You have totally won my heart instead. Thank you that on days when I feel my world unraveling, I can gather up my little ones, and crash down at your place where you welcome us with open arms. I did it the other day. My overstimulated brain and body needed a break, so in a sort of desperation, I got myself and the four littles...

Keep Reading

Hello From the Middle of the Middle Years

In: Grown Children, Living, Motherhood, Teen
Teen boy helping elderly man up the stairs, color photo

I am middle-aged. I honestly don’t know how or when I got here, but it’s legit. It’s not just in the number I say out loud when someone asks me how old I am. Or when I give my students my birth year and am returned with perplexed questions as they try to comprehend how I could have actually existed in the 1900s. So, that makes you like… historical? So, you were there when MLK died? So, you’re like, 82? I definitely need to talk to their math teacher. This middle-aged business pulled up for a ride out of nowhere. I feel...

Keep Reading

My Dad Remarried after My Mom Died, and as a Daughter It’s Bittersweet

In: Grief, Grown Children, Loss
Older couple walking on beach holding hands

My dad ran off with a woman from California. When you put it like that, it sounds salacious and a faux pax, but the reality is a lot less interesting. My mom died of cancer at the cusp of my adulthood, leaving me and a gaggle of siblings behind. Six months later, my dad met a widow in California, connected with her, fell in love, and decided to move our family to California to be with her. Two years almost to the day after my mother died, my father married my stepmother. (I have photographic evidence of the event, I...

Keep Reading

Sharing a Birthday with My Dad Is the Best Gift of All

In: Grown Children
Old, color photo of father and tween daughter blowing out candles

I have the best dad. I know many people say that about their dad, but I really do. He is the kind of person who lights up a room with his smile or his hearty laugh—the kind that makes you start cracking up just by hearing it. His heart is made of solid gold, and he makes everyone feel like the most important person in the room. He exudes the kind of joy that radiates like sunshine beaming through the darkest storm. He loves everyone and everything. Especially his birthday. And not just for the ordinary reasons people love their birthday—the...

Keep Reading

Seeing My Dad’s Illness through My Child’s Eyes Hurts More

In: Grown Children, Living, Motherhood
Little girl and grandpa walking down sidewalk, color photo

It’s extremely hard to see your parent sick. It’s a million times harder to see your child’s grandparent sick. It may not make sense, but if you’ve been there, it probably hits close to home. The fact is there is a very real, very significant difference between the two. While both are challenging and heartbreaking in their own ways, the latter is a whole other form of hurt. One you can’t fully prepare for. When my dad recently started undergoing significant health issues, we all reacted in different ways. As adult children, we knew this would always be a possibility....

Keep Reading

A Grandma’s Love Is Stronger Than DNA

In: Grown Children, Motherhood
Woman with toddler granddaughter, black-and-white photo

This baby girl. I shouldn’t love her like I do. But, I do. She’s not mine. Yet, I feel like she is. Or, maybe I feel like I am hers.  Three years ago I got remarried to a man with a young adult daughter. I immediately felt adoration for this daughter who wasn’t mine. But coming along later in her life, I knew my expectations must be kept safely in check. She already had a mother. She even had a stepmother before me. Her heart must have been familiar with breaks I had yet to know at her tender age. ...

Keep Reading

I Am a Mother Evolving

In: Grown Children, Kids, Motherhood, Teen
Mother and child walking by water in black and white photo

Those who mean well squawk the refrain— “The days are long, but the years are short.” They said I would miss it— little feet and newborn baby smell nursing in the wee hours with a tiny hand clutching mine. Tying shoes,  playing tooth fairy,  soothing scary dreams. They were fine times, but I do not wish them back. RELATED: Mamas, Please Quit Mourning Your Children Growing Up I rather enjoy these days of my baby boy suddenly looking like a young man in a baseball uniform  on a chilly Wednesday in April. And my Amazonian teenage girl  with size 11...

Keep Reading

Watching My Mom Lose Her Best Friend Is Hard

In: Grief, Grown Children, Loss
Two women walking, color photo

Today, my mom lost one of her best friends. Today the news came. Suddenly. Unexpectedly. Traumatically. Ripping a hole in the heart of her world and the world of all who knew and loved her. Today I realized so many things. Things I already know but always lose sight of. Things like, nothing is ever guaranteed. Things like, you never know when it will be your last text . . . your last hug . . . your last power walk . . . your last everything with a person who is so deeply connected to your heart and soul...

Keep Reading