A new NC rideshare safety law just went into effect. Here’s what passengers can expect

Wake County News

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – A new law went into effect in North Carolina this week aimed at improving safety when people use rideshare services such as Uber and Lyft.

Drivers are now required to display their license plate information on the front of their cars. Failing to do so could result in a $250 fine.

The General Assembly passed the Passenger Protect Act earlier this year after police in Columbia, South Carolina, say a man murdered college student Samantha Josephson after she got in a car she mistakenly believed to be her Uber ride.

“I’ve had a lot of people go to the back of my car and check the tags and I understand why they do that. I mean, there’s been a lot of stuff in the news of things happening,” said David Needham, who drives for both Uber and Lyft.

He said Uber sent him a placard with his license plate information printed on it for him to display in the windshield. He said Lyft also contacted drivers and sent them an online template where they could print their information to display.

CBS 17 went to RDU airport over the last two days to try to get a better idea of whether drivers are complying with the new law, as dozens of passengers met up with drivers for their rides.

The majority of drivers had license plate information properly displayed, while about one out of every eight did not.

One driver said he was aware of the new law and had his placard but forgot to display it. Another said he was still working to get a printed copy of his license plate information to display.

State Rep. John Bell (R-Wayne), who led the push for the General Assembly to pass the new law, said he expects there will be a “grace period” for drivers to come into compliance before law enforcement officers begin fining drivers.

In an email, Lyft spokesperson Campbell Matthews wrote, “Safety is fundamental to Lyft, and we are working with North Carolina Lyft drivers to help ensure they are in compliance with the measures laid out in the Passenger Protection Act. Checking the license plate number is the easiest and most effective way for riders to identify their correct vehicle.”

She also said the company put notifications for drivers in its app and has communicated with them by text and email about the requirements.

Uber spokesperson Evangeline George told CBS 17, “We appreciate this effort to strengthen safety and are committed to doing our part to promote the safe use of the app. Our team has been working to educate drivers in North Carolina on the new law, and we have provided them with a front placard printed with their license plate number.”

She said at the beginning of September, Uber mailed placards to its North Carolina drivers to display. The company also sent them a version to print on their own if they didn’t receive a placard in time.

On July 1, 2020, drivers also will be required to have illuminated signs on the front of their cars to better identify them. The new law also makes it a crime to impersonate a rideshare driver and to assault a rideshare driver.

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