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Please, learn from this mistake

One of the first things we teach our children is to never, ever get into a stranger's car.

In the age of Uber and Lyft, we all need to relearn that lesson. Along with: The later you're out at night, the greater your chances of running into the wrong person. And: It's always safer to travel in groups.

Nothing can ever mitigate the heartbreaking tragedy of the killing of University of South Carolina student Samantha Josephson, who was abducted and slain after she got into what she mistakenly thought was an Uber ride-share she had ordered. But maybe it can be some small comfort to her family if her death leads more young people to follow the advice of Ms. Josephson's father, Seymour Josephson, who urged students to stay in groups at night and called on ride-sharing services to do more to make sure passengers get into the right cars.

It's never been safe to be out in bar districts in the wee hours of the morning, and certainly not to leave your friends and strike out on your own. But the ubiquity of ride-sharing services — which many of us inexplicably consider safer than the more heavily regulated and more easily identifiable taxi services — has caused many people to let down their guard. Not only do we wander out alone, sometimes after consuming too much alcohol to drive safely, but we don't follow basic safety precautions when we think we spot our ride.

Gregory Yee and Andy Shain of The Post and Courier talked to a former bar owner who recounted three instances of young women trying to get into his car on a recent night when he was serving as designated driver for a group of friends in Columbia's Five Points, the bar district from which Ms. Josephson was abducted. ...

While lawmakers, regulators and the ride-share services consider what additional measures are needed, there are several precautions everyone who uses the services can and should take to protect their own safety. ...

Perhaps most importantly, if you don't feel safe, walk away. Don't worry about being charged for canceling a ride; ride-sharing services usually will refund the money if you don't feel safe. And even if they don't, the money isn't worth your life. ...

This editorial first appeared in Charleston Post and Courier.