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Preventing Violence against Taxicab Drivers

Posted on by Cammie Chaumont Menéndez, PhD, MPH, MS
Digital security camera head mounted over the rear-view mirror in a Winnipeg taxicab.
Digital security camera head mounted over the rear-view mirror in a Winnipeg taxicab. By Richard Kellie

Homicide is consistently among the top causes of work-related deaths. While the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and others have reported since the 1990s that the taxicab industry has a very high occurrence of workplace homicide, some are still surprised to learn that taxicab drivers face a greater risk for injury and homicide on the job than those working in law enforcement and security.

To date, very little epidemiologic research has been conducted on the circumstances surrounding taxicab driver homicides and assaults, and it remains unclear which safety interventions are most effective in reducing violence-related injuries. There are several types of safety equipment available to taxicab companies, such as cameras, partitions, GPS devices, and alert systems. While partitions appear to be effective in reducing homicides (based on studies of their use in Baltimore, New York City, and Winnipeg), they have not been widely accepted by the industry. Some drivers complain that the physical barrier inhibits personal interaction and leads to reduced tips—an important part of their livelihood. The use of video cameras in taxis, while perceived as invaluable for identifying offenders, has not yet been evaluated for impact and effectiveness in reducing homicides to taxicab drivers. An evaluation would be useful for taxi commissions, public health agencies, and other government agencies to make recommendations for protecting drivers. Currently, city ordinances for improving taxicab driver safety, when written, recommend specific interventions with little data to support the decision. Furthermore, an understanding of the epidemiology of nonfatal injuries resulting from violent events experienced by taxicab drivers would be helpful for improving current safety interventions, such as camera installment.

NIOSH is working to help fill in these research gaps. One project involves analyzing taxicab homicide data obtained from newspaper articles on over 700 homicides occurring between 1992 and 2006. Newspaper articles are expected to be a unique source of data involving circumstances surrounding the driver’s death that cannot be found in the other data sources typically used for characterizing work-related fatalities. For example, we expect to be able to describe the circumstances of the homicide (timing of events, method of homicide, co-occurrence of crime, location of the assailant relative to the taxicab, and evidence or suspicion of disagreement before homicide), characteristics of the victim (age, gender, nationality, and length of tenure driving cabs), characteristics of the suspect(s) (number, age, and gender), and workplace characteristics (type of cab, communication equipment, and protection or surveillance equipment installed in the cab). We hope to be able to identify frequently occurring scenarios and make recommendations for protecting drivers.

Additionally, NIOSH is very interested in partnering with regulators in the taxicab industry to conduct an evaluation of cameras that are currently used in the industry and others that are commercially available (in terms of utility and practicality). NIOSH is very interested in conducting a nationwide study focused on large taxicab companies in 6 to 9 major cities. NIOSH proposes a possible study that will involve a survey of taxicab drivers as well as data collection regarding timing of camera installation, number of cabs with cameras, and type of camera used. Crime reports filed by the police department will be examined for nonfatal injuries resulting from violent events among taxicab drivers since 1990 (or from the first time data are available).

This type of science-based evaluation will allow NIOSH to make recommendations about the effectiveness of using cameras for reducing violent events and specify which types of cameras and camera configurations provide the most benefit for protecting taxicab drivers.

As we move forward with this research, we would like to hear from the taxicab community—in particular regulators, industry representatives, and workers in the taxicab industry. We are interested in your thoughts regarding safety interventions in the workplace—specifically regarding cameras, GPS, partitions, and other safety devices or crime deterrents. Additionally, NIOSH invites comments about the necessity and contribution of its proposed study to evaluate the effectiveness of cameras. Please feel free to submit your comments. Your thoughts are very helpful to us when designing studies we hope will benefit you.

Thank you for your assistance,

Cammie Chaumont Menéndez, PhD, MPH, MS

Dr. Cammie Chaumont Menéndez is an Epidemic Intelligence Service Officer in NIOSH’s Division of Safety Research in Morgantown, West Virginia.

More information on workplace violence prevention is available on the NIOSH occupational violence topic page.

Posted on by Cammie Chaumont Menéndez, PhD, MPH, MS

29 comments on “Preventing Violence against Taxicab Drivers”

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    “The use of video cameras in taxis, while perceived as invaluable for identifying offenders, has not yet been evaluated for impact and effectiveness in reducing homicides to taxicab drivers.”
    Hasn’t there been any research on the effectiveness of video cameras in convenience stores as deterrents to mayhem? The frequent appearance of video footage showing violent crimes in progress on TV “reality” shows would suggest that cameras are not altogether effective.

    One show I saw interviewed a police chief (Dade County FL if I remember correctly) who actually used violent video footage from local convenience stores to lobby the state legislature for what turned out to be an effective measure against robbery and violence—restricting the night hours of these stores.

    GPS is frequently touted as a “safety measure” by taxi companies, but its real purpose is to keep track of taxi movements to enable more efficient use of resources. According to Gerry Manley’s email yesterday to the Taxi Safety Council, the Envision camera system has similar monitoring capability that might make it attractive for companies to consider installing in their cabs. Now if only we could find a “business purpose” for shields, drivers might get some of those too.

    Thank you for your comment and taking the time to share your thoughts on the blog. You asked if there has been any research that has demonstrated the effectiveness of cameras in reducing violent events that can lead to injuries, such as in convenience store robberies. There is no definitive data on the effectiveness of cameras to reduce injuries associated with assaults or robberies in convenience stores. Research studies have shown that closed circuit TV camera systems are associated with only moderate (20-50%) reductions in robbery risk (Amandus et al., JOEM, 1995, 37:711-717; Hendricks et.al., JOEM, 1999, 41:995-1004; Casteel et al, Am J Prev Med, 2000, 18: 99-115). It would be speculative but likely that CCTV systems would thus have some effect to reduce robbery-related injuries.

    I believe the issue of taxi driver safety has been researched to death and I recommend you tap into all available data on the subject matter and start an immediate process to protect your taxi drivers in their workplace in your city. Norman Beattie states that digital imaging has yet to be evaluated for effectiveness on reducuing homicides to taxi drivers. There is an element of truth in that statement as most jurisdictions worldwide have zero protection of any kind for the taxi driver but there are some stats I can give you from my city Toronto Ontario Canada. Our membership decided to go with the digital cameras for a number of reasons and since they were mandated in 2000, we have seen an overall reduction in crime against our drivers in the 65% to 70% range. There have been two homicides during that period and one could have been avoided. This is not to say that this is an acceptable percentage but in a 5,000 taxi fleet with over 11,000 members, it has been reasonably successful and if our members became more pro-active with the safety equipment I believe those percentages would reach 80% to 90%. What needs to happen is that all major stakeholders come to the table and open discussions happen. There is an apparent misunderstanding what a major stakeholder is. They should include representation from industry members in all areas of the industry, police, general public, city hall and the courts. From those discussions a taxi driver safety plan can be quickly adopted and put into action. What the majority of the stakeholders recommend is what should be adopted. It will probably vary from city to city as will the equipment that they recommend.

    Keep in mind that regardless of what equipment and/or course of action that you take, nothing will be 100% effective but your goal should be to dramatically reduce crime aginst the driver, come up with a plan that will be emabraced by your consumers and make sure it is something that you can sell to city hall as they will have the ultimate say as to whether it is adopted or not. The best safety devices that a taxi driver has is their industry experience and their common sense. Check my website at [www.allstream.net/~ghmanley] and pay special attention to the links tab and download the two posted letters. On those letters is enough information and references for any city or organization to start the process. Time for talk is over. Every second you spend talking could well be at the cost of your taxi driver’s life.

    Thank you for your insightful comments. You raise concern that there is too much research being done and not enough action. We at NIOSH are also concerned about too much research and not enough action in the form of interventions or mandates. This is why we began the Research To Practice initiative a while back that promotes translation of research findings into applied science in the form of workplace interventions that focus on directly impacting injuries and illness. However, as NIOSHs mandate is to conduct research and make recommendations for interventions based on sound science, we feel there is still research to be done to determine whether or not cameras are an effective deterrent and which type of cameras are useful. Partitions are likely an effective deterrent as demonstrated in Baltimore and New York City (Stone, JR and DC Stevens, North Carolina State University, 1999). However, evidence for the effectiveness of camera has been varied–being successful in NYC, Toronto and Boston, but less effective in San Francisco. Even representatives of the NYC taxi commission questioned whether it was the camera which reduced taxicab homicides and assaults or the city-wide crime prevention program which was being promoted.

    Although partitions are less acceptable to taxicab drivers, cameras appear to be more feasible to them. The taxicab industry seems to find cameras more useful as a potential deterrent and have more cameras installed than partitions. Since they are already in use and their use is increasing, NIOSH believes their effectiveness to deter robbery, assaults and homicides needs to be an evaluated in a controlled study. In this way NIOSH can promote a technology based upon scientific evidence.

    You also suggest that stakeholders be brought together to discuss evidence and to establish guidelines for safety equipment. This is a good comment and NIOSH could play a role in facilitating such a workshop and development of guidelines by working with key stakeholder groups in government and industry.

    Clearly, NIOSH is not recommending that the taxicab industry delay implementation of camera or other safety equipment in cabs until sufficient research is done. However, an evaluation of safety equipment effectiveness is timely and prudent.

    In most occupations, the death of a worker is a big shock to the co-workers. If a construction worker is killed in a fall, it happens right in front of the other construction workers, and they see the body on the ground. It’s immediate and real.

    But when a taxi driver is killed, it happens in isolation due to the nature of the work. As like as not, none of the other cab drivers sees the body, and may only hear of the death when they read about it in the newspaper. It seems not real, something that you read about in the paper, not something that affects you personally.

    I think that many cab drivers minimize the risk in their work, and part of the reason is that attacks on other drivers seem distant and unreal.

    In many kinds of work, construction for instance, there is often a culture of safety. Safety is job #1. In order to have a culture of safety in the taxi industry, I think that drivers will have to get more information. I hope that the current NIOSH study will produce information that gets drivers to take safety more seriously.

    Just a slight correction to Gerry’s post—it wasn’t me who said that “digital imaging has yet to be evaluated for effectiveness on reducuing homicides to taxi drivers”—I was simply quoting from the Blog intro page.

    I think that there is definitely some deterrent value in cameras for the thinking criminal, but as the cameras in convenience stores have shown there are plenty of violent drug addled criminals who don’t notice the cameras or don’t care about them. That’s why a combination of devices is needed.

    I also think there may be a problem quantifying the deterrent value of any safety measure. In Winnipeg shields and cameras were mandated simultaneously. In news reports cameras tend to be given most of the credit for the decline in robberies and violence but I don’t see what statistical basis there can be for this supposition.

    On the other hand, as I understand it in Toronto owners were given a choice of cameras or shields and I believe most owners went for cameras. I’m not a statistician but I presume you could make statistically valid argument on the basis of the proportion of cameras to shields in Toronto cabs that most of the credit for the decline in crime(as Gerry has stated) is attributable to cameras.

    In other jurisdictions (e.g., New York, Boston) shields were installed alone, before modern camera technology was available, and they also produced a reduction of crime and violence. So maybe there’s a way of determining the statistical effectiveness of each measure and of combinations of measures.

    This is more than recreational number crunching. There is a miasma of myth and legend surrounding discussions of taxi driver safety measures that can only be cleared away with fact.

    On another issue, I have been involved with Charles Rathbone and others in identifying and documenting taxi driver homicide cases in Canada. These cases naturally attract the most attention and press but I think homicides are only the tip of the iceberg and that any analysis of safety issues cannot simply focus on homicides. Sadly, homicides tend to be the sole focus of a lot of people’s thinking about safety measures (e.g., we don’t really need to spend money on cameras, shields etc. because “only” 3 or 4 cab drivers a year are murdered in Canada).

    In addition to deaths, there are many drivers permanently disabled, seriously injured or traumatized, as well as bystanders who are spurred to bail out of the industry due to fears for their safety. We need some measure of the widening ripples that spread out from acts of violence.

    Not to minimize homicides. Charles and I have been contacted by several survivors of murdered taxi drivers and some of their stories about the continuing impact on family and friends years or decades after the fact are heart wrenching.

    Charles Rathbone’s comments ring the most truth to me. Drivers are isolated, and the impact of murders and injuries is not strongly felt. Drivers are also under the stress of making money and not losing money.

    Communicating with the drivers is the most difficult job. And the owners, dispatch companies, and regulators do not want them to hear everything, if it does not serve their interests. Majority of drivers are exploited though the loopholes of the Independent Contractor Relationship, and the fact is that drivers pay for everything no matter whom the bill goes to.

    It is great if you recommend safety training. But remember that the driver, if he or she loses 2–3 hours in the day because of the training, will very well make no income for that day because of lease and other expenses. And may resent you for it. Also, please consider the Hypocrisy of talking about safety and the effectiveness of shields, cameras and so forth. And not talking about the Pathetic health conditions of drivers. Having no health insurance or any security whatsoever, his or her likelihood of being a victim is greatly increased working under stress and fatigue.

    I was at a vigil recently, and what depressed me mostly was seeing the widow and kids, and knowing that she could not afford the funeral expenses. See the kids and knowing they might not go to college. And by coincidence, I was there when a driver had his ear bitten off fighting a robbery. And it is depressing that Billy, the driver, has thousands of dollars in medical expenses that he cannot afford, and a long road of doctor visits, which I doubt that he will go.

    And three weeks ago, another driver died of a heart attack. He was recovering from breaking his leg while washing his cab. And he was supposed to take medicine that costs over $2000 to prevent blood clots. Do you think that he was taking this medicine? Do you think that he could drive a cab safely, and have sharp mental facilites when the cast came off his leg?

    I truly appreciate any individual group speaking up, studying, and or researching anything that may help a cab driver.

    Well I’ll tell you this, here in Vegas we are required to take a safty course once a year with the permit renewal. And one every quarter (4 times a year) thru my company. Now not all companies are like mine but they all require at least 1 a year besides the state mandated 1. I personally think it keeps me from becomming complaceant and overconfident in my awareness of what a dangerous job this can be.

    B safe all

    I have a perspective on partition use in taxis that is reinforced by Federal Law but unsupported in practice.

    Use of a partition in a taxi does more to protect the assailant from the driver than it does… to protect the driver from the assailant.

    Use of a partition in a taxi empowers the assailant – by protecting the prospective criminal from any drivers’ attempt to; suppress the threat or to retaliate. Threat suppression and retaliation are not always the best option – but the elimination of these options is absurd and increases the risk to the driver.

    Use of a partition in a taxi is often cited by regulatory authorities as a basis of rationalization to compel drivers (many, if not most of whom, are independent contractors) to exercise absolutely no discretionary evaluation regarding risk concerning whom they convey. Many partition mandating regulators overstate the protective nature of the partition by falsely claiming the partition is bullet-resistant. Some go as far as to demonstrate their profound ignorance by referring to the partition as bullet-proof.

    Use of a partition in a taxi is often cited by regulatory authorities as a basis of rationalization to unilaterally deny cab drivers their second amendment constitutional right to self defense by means of a firearm.

    Falsely claiming the partition is bullet-resistant increases driver risk by inclining the driver to a feeling of false security.

    Use of a partition in a taxi will never prevent or disincline an assailant from shooting through another window… at ANY time.

    Use of a partition in a taxi, with rare exceptions in the 1980’s, is in violation of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Law. No partition currently in use in ANY application complies with Federal Standards, none are certified to comply and both are universally mandatory minimum federal requirements for automobiles which are ever capable of crossing a state line.

    Violations of the FMVSA’s provisions and requirements are not inconsequential. There is evidence that the safety violations are responsible for significant increases in traumatic brain injury, facial mutilation and sometimes even death in collisions.

    Use of a partition in a taxi promotes an adversarial atmosphere in the taxi. Many passengers have commented, in their first encounter with a partitioned taxi; “Wow! Crime must be pretty BAD in this city, huh?” Some passengers with poor social adjustment skills take advantage of the physical isolation and feel more free, to antagonize the driver. Some passengers with poor social adjustment skills and criminal inclinations comment; “You don’t really believe this partition will PROTECT you, do you?”

    It is undeniable that cab driving is the deadliest job in the US – from fatal assault. As more and more cities have implemented taxi partition requirements since 1969, the risk of, and frequency of, fatal assault on cab drivers has placed our ranking in this category higher and further from those next on the list, armed police officers. Currently, cab drivers are 5-10 times more likely to be murdered on the job than police officers.

    One city, New Orleans, considered a taxi partition mandate in 1997. 13 drivers had been killed in the previous three years. When the Times-Picayune followed advice to stop portraying cab drivers as ‘witless, vulnerable, dupes, easily robbed of hundreds of dollars, in remote, isolated locations’ and instead opted, with their editorial discretion, to publish only accounts of events where drivers PREVAILED in the face of a potentially fatal assailant… the murder rate of cab drivers in the deadliest city, in the deadliest occupation… nearly ceased to exist at all. No more than 3 murders in the 10 years from 1998 to 2008. It is not clear that any or even some of those killings were the classic “kill the driver in the process of the robbery” profile. The Times-Picayune reported four events in the four years (1997- 2001) drivers were shot at by assailants. Three times, the driver returned fire. Twice the criminal shooter was slain. None of the drivers ever had charges filed against them. Improper wielding of a firearm while driving a taxi is extremely rare. They are certainly much rarer than such events where police officers are involved.

    There is an unspoken fear that cab drivers are secretly – repressed homicidal maniacs. The reason for this conventional perception has a foundation in those instances where drivers, ‘branded as unarmed’ by taxi regulators, feel a need to utilize a bold survival strategy. It is a strategy where the driver in the event of a developing risk, endeavors to appear less mentally stable than he actually IS, in order to incline the prospective criminal to seek a more predictable/compliant victim than the “CRAZY” cab driver.

    Conventional wisdom has been to advise cab drivers to ‘comply’ with the demands of criminals and ‘hope’ for survival. This advice is not very different than the outdated advice to prospective rape victims… to “relax and wait for it to be over, and ‘HOPE’ FOR THE BEST.”

    As stated before, most cab drivers are independent contractors. The choice of compliance, resistance or retaliation is entirely the purview of those I/C’s.

    I recommend reading a book by three time presidential appointee (under Bush, Clinton and Bush?) by the name of “The Gift of Fear”.

    I agree with most of the comments here and thank NIOSH for interests in these workers(independent contractors). There have been many driver killed while performing this dangerous occupation and even more assaulted and robbed. It’s hard to keep accurate statistics on the assaults and robberies because drivers are under too much pressure to pay their expenses therefore many do not wait for the police to arrive. Here in Philadelphia, we have been conducting a survey and I found it stunning to see how many drivers were assaulted and robbed. Also because many drivers are first generation immigrants, many have been exposed to xenophobic treatment.

    In our city, partition shields are required by the regulator since the early 1990’s. We have seen ups and downs in the murder rate of taxi drivers since then. Economic conditions along with the drug culture have given rise to the killings. However I do believe that the shields have been effective. Recently, we asked the regulator to consider adding cameras along with the partition shields to act as a further deterent. We have yet to receive anything concrete as an answer. Currently, the regulator here installed a GPS device with an attached panic button. The problem is that the panic button goes to the radio dispatcher instead of the police. also the GPS doesn’t read in real time which has given drivers a false sense of safety with some devastating rsults. the regulator has since put out a leaflet telling drivers not to depend on the panic button for safety.

    Safety training is always helpful, and should be conducted by real drivers with real experience, rather than with textbooks because each location has it’s own flavor. We proposed this idea to the regulators but was turned down because of our campaigns against other policies.

    Even though prayer vigils happens after the fact, they are effective because they humanize the drivers. Many times the media will talk with the grieving family and show their pain to the public. Quick police response is also valuable because it lets potential offenders know that they will not get away with it. The worse thing we can do is to let it go unnoticed after the original breaking news story. Including taxi drivers into the crime codes with mandatory sentencing and advertising it is also an effective deterrent.

    Lastly, drivers need a safety net. The companies, owners, and municipalities should be required to carry workers compensation and life insurance policies for these workers(independent contractors). Some areas presently do mandate workers compensation, but there are so many loopholes in the programs that they become ineffective. Many times in my city, it is the drivers that must pass the hat around to help each other. Hopefully these discussions will continue and policy makers will take note, but most importantly, take action.

    As a former driver and now a licensed Private Detective with Industrial Management background I find the video cameras and gps great forensic tools.

    OSHA mandated safety guard devices be installed on machinery in production facilities to prevent injury and death. Not cameras and GPS devices to watch the injury happen.

    Police have partitions in their vehicles to prevent injury and that is after their passenger is shackled and searched. We do not have the luxury of searching our passengers or having the buddy system when we pick up strangers and former prisoners who can no longer drive their own vehicls.

    It is about time we talked preventative devices and not forensic ones.

    We recently observed the first anniversary of the only murder of a cab driver in Kingston, Ontario. His name is David Krick, and as far as I am able to figure out, the case still being before the courts, a barrier would not have saved his life. The GPS in the Mentor Meter did allow precise tracking of the path of the vehicle after the murder but before the vehicle was ditched.

    We are a smaller city, 117,000 people, and have 196 taxis. Robberies and attempted robberies do occur (someone attempted to rob me in 2004), but they are not prominent. Two taxicam representatives did come to Kingston and make presentations, as did one shield manufacturer. In addition we had information from Winnipeg regarding shileds and cameras.

    The general feeling was that:

    ◦Vehicle owners, not drivers, should pay the freight for safety measures.
    ◦The murder of David Krick was a one-off, despite the 15 prisons around this area.
    ◦The only safety measure that should be mandatory is watching a training video created in British Columbia when first licensed. Renewal licensees do not have to watch it.

    Bottom line?

    No more murders. Very few robberies. No concern about safety unless it is not expressed.

    My feeling is that this issue is driven by particular cases, not by over-riding concerns. Training? YES!!!!!!!!!! Cameras, barriers, GPS? Helpful but not really needed in a small city like Kingston.

    Hope this helps

    I was just wondering……What In The World Could Be MORE Dangerous Than ‘PICKING UP HITCH – HIKER’S, TOTAL STRANGERS, 24/7, PUTTING THEM IN THE BACH SEAT & TAKE THEM ANYWHERE THEY WANT TO GO’.???? That’s exactly what taxi drivers do..!! Did you EVER think about THAT.?? AMAZING eh.?

    ** BOTTOM LINE is:__________ O.S.H.A. must mandate some rules/regulations IMMEDIATLY to protect cab driver’s from Workplace Violence.!! Waiting for the cab co.owner’s & Taxi Regulator’s to do the RIGHT THING ( Nationwide ) is pretty much hopeless.! Partition’s/Safety Shield’s/Bandit Barrier’s, Hi – Jack Light’s – Camera’s ect.are NOT new ideas.!! It’s kinda like.. Having a cure for cancer & nobody wanting to buy the medicine.!! (Not to imply that ANYTHING is 100%…except to ELIMINATE CRIME.!)

    Doing NOTHING about Taxidriver Violence & Training is NOT a option.!** PLEASE see: [www.Taxi-Library.org] and Click on: Homicide Prevention & Memoriam.!!…THEN..ask yourself if you would want your son or daughter or Loved One to be a Cab Driver??????? Taxi Driver’s have fallen thru the safety net of society & VERY FEW PEOPLE EVEN GIVE A DAMN.!!It’s a NATIONAL DISGRACE..!!!Come On O.S.H.A…LET’S ROLL.!!

    I THINK THAT SAFTY CLASSES IS A GREAT IDEA BUT WHAT WE REALLY NEED IS THE WATCH DOGS TO INSTEAD OF GIVING US A HARD TIME WORK WITH US AND TRY 2 FOUND A WAY 2 KEEP US SAFE IN PHILLY THEY PUT IN A G.P.S AND IT DONT WORK HOW IS THAT KEEPING US SAFE

    Hopefully, there will be more valuable resources available from agencies like National Center for the Analysis of Violent Crime to implement some stronger programs nationwide.

    A complete targeted study is needed like the one on Serial Murder posted:

    ◦ [http://www.fbi.gov/page2/july08/serialmurder_070708.html]
    ◦ [http://www.fbi.gov/hq/isd/cirg/ncavc.htm]

    Illinois has a new law that steps up a battery on a cabdriver to a felony. For reasons that are incomprehensible to me as an attorney who once was a prosecutor, the taxi regulators in the City of Chicago refuse to allow taxi drivers to post that law on their safety shields. The taxi Commissioner has ruled that such signs are “clutter”.

    NONSENSE.

    Every time a cabdriver is battered, police who are unaware of the existence of this new law end up charging the perpetrator with simple battery. The prosecutors who are usually fresh out of law school and have little or no experience don’t even know to send the case to the felony review unit because they are unaware of the existence of the statute. HOW CAN THIS BE?

    Of course, the answer is simple – we need to politic with the politicians: the Commissioner of the Department of Consumer Services who regulates taxicab service in Chicago is the one in a position to do something.

    Corresponding laws are needed nationally for the protection of cabdrivers. Regulators in other cities need to make the police and prosecutors aware of the existence of these new laws so they are enforced. The more they are enforced, the less the cabdrivers are going to be the victims of attacks.

    It’s pretty much that simple.

    Not allowing drivers/compaines to post a notice stating that assaulting a cab driver is a felony – calling it “clutter” -shows you just little concern regulators have for driver safety. The legislature passed such a law with the hopes of reducing crime against cabdrivers by increasing the penalty. It can have no such deterrant effect if the criminal is unaware of it! Likewise, even a camera won’t be an effective deterrent if the passenger does not realize it’s there. I recently rode in a cab in Seattle and I noticed the camera itself right away. It was small and unobtrusive and easily missed by the average passenger, but since I participated in getting the cameras mandated, I knew what I was looking for. However, I did not notice the sign informing me that the cab had a camera. I had to search for it. Once I was in the cab, the only signs were on the side windows, towards the back of the cab. I had to look over my shoulder to see it! There’s no way such poorly posted notices will bee seen and read. How will a camera deter crime when the crininal does not even know it’s there? The notice needs to be attention-getting and in the passengers line of sight, not small, official-looking and behind him! When gathering statistics about the usefulness of safety equipment, you need to take such things into account. Not every city will be using the equipment properly.

    Gerry Manley states that a driver’s best safety equipment is “their industry experience and their common sense”. With the huge turnover in the industry, drivers with “industry experience” are rare, and common sense is little protection against a criminal intent on doing harm. A lack of experience and common sense is not what makes a driver a victim of crime. Criminal intent and a lack of safety training and equipment is what causes drivers to be victimized.

    Safety training could be helpful, but it would probably have to be mandated. Any emphasis on safety training will serve to expose the inherent dangers of the job and fewer will be willing to do it. Risky jobs generally pay well. Taxi driving does not. Companies, for the most part, seem content with the rate of murders and assaults. After all, taxi drivers are easily replaceable. As long as the independent contractor scam is allowed, making it possible -and profitable – for companies to shirk their responsibility to provide a safe workplace, safety equipment and safety training are not going to be considered cost-effective. If drivers were covered by workers’ compensation and the rate adjusted according to an experience factor, taxi drivers’lives would take on more importance.

    It’s a great idea i was a taxi driver in orlando i now own a transportation company. While driving in orlando i have had people with guns, drunk, upset, at one pick up i had the police dump 2 drug attics into my taxi. not a good feeling when the police put someone in your taxi they do not want to deal with.

    Driver training is a critical component of overall driver safety. Cameras, partitions, “hijack” lights and GPS can all be of some value. What a driver cannot do is depend on one or more of these devices to keep them safe. Often training classes minimize the danger instead of discussing it frankly and assisting the driver in developing strategies to cope with potentially violent situations. Detailed dispatch procedures for prevention of potential crisis situations must be developed, taught and practiced by drivers and dispatchers well in advance of dispatchers or drivers taking an active role in the business. Boring videos and disinterested instructors aren’t filling the bill. Something more along the lines of a “Burn Notice” movie are in order.

    Re: Picking Up DRUNKS for a living.?? ( ie:Driving a Hack / Cab.)It’s VERY unpridictable & DANGEROUS.!!BUT, somebody’s gotta do it..RIGHT.?? Cabbies are a SITTING DUCK without a Safety Shield / Partition / Bandit Barrier / Screen..or whatever U want to call it.!! MADD ( Mother’s Against Drunk Driving ) supports Safety Shields / Partitions ( see the letter below from MADD ).BOTTOM LINE is: Even a Heavy Duty Mosquitto Net is better than NOTHING.!!Would YOU pick up a DRUCK without some sort of protection.??Would U want your Son, Daughter or Loved one to pick up DRUNKS for a living.??Maybe it’s time to RAISE SOME H*** with OSHA & your local taxi regulator.?? P.S. – GOD BLESS MADD.!Jim Sz.

    On July 24, 2008, detectives and staff of the St. Petersburg Police Department met with representatives of local cab companies servicing the city as well representatives from various pizza delivery outlets. The purpose of the meeting was to brief them on the recent increase of cab robberies as well as the two homicide deaths of cab drivers this year. They were also provided a four page document consisting of our recommendations on ways they could enhance driver safety and various crime prevention tips for the cab drivers themselves.

    The meeting was well attended and the recommendations were positively received. Cab management has agreed to meet on their own to discuss plans for further communication among themselves. The Police Department will follow up with the managers in the future to check on their progress and see what recommendations they chose to adopt.

    Taxi Drivers aren’t allowed to carry handguns to protect themselves. If criminals thought they could get shot, they would be less likely to hold up taxicab drivers.

    It’s a freedom issue, folks.

    Regarding comment #21… it is inversely logical to accept the universal denial of second amendment constitutional rights for those MOST likely to be shot dead – on the job.

    The elitism by those who don’t identify with or care much about cab driver welfare contributes to the apathy and resignation that cab drivers are worthy of trust to – transport ones loved ones in deadlier automobiles – but NOT trusted to not be a repressed homicidal maniac… if and only if we assume the profound responsibility to keep and maintain access to a firearm.

    If I put my wife or either of my children in a taxi… I need to trust my intuition. If the driver appears to be shaky for MV operation… my ‘reject’ threshold for driving competence is lower than my threshold for responsible weapon handling.

    If I trust a taxi driver can responsibly operate an automobile, and has accumulated the usual lengthy history of passing the hurdles presented by responsible licensing agencies authorities, I expect the odds of the drivers weapon being used poorly… are slim.

    I know that most career cab drivers aren’t secretly respressed homicidal maniacs. Popular notions to the contrary can be largely attributed to unfounded cultural myths furthered by superficial media awareness of how the taxi industry operates and what the real risks are.

    I am a graduate student at Old Dominion University in a Risk Assessment course. I noticed in your article that several safety devices are available to taxicab companies (e.g. cameras, partitions, GPS devices, etc.), but most are not widely used or accepted by the taxicab companies or the taxi drivers. Has NIOSH made an attempt to identify certain risk factors (e.g. working from 12-5am, etc.) that can predispose a taxi driver to violence?

    If the risk factors were identified than can NIOSH use the data to attempt to place a type of safety rating or factor on the safety devices to encourage taxicab companies and drivers that if you use certain types of safety devices or a combination of safety devices than you can lower your risk of experiencing violence against taxicab drivers?

    NIOSH is currently in the planning phase of a new study that would focus on determining risk factors associated with taxicab driver homicides and nonfatal injuries, including working from 12-5 am, among other potential risk factors for work-related violence among taxi drivers (such as lack of safety training, length of time on the job, presence of equipment installed in cab to promote safety). A component of this would involve a laboratory-based study where different security camera models would be tested and evaluated using a set of criteria. NIOSH would certainly consider using findings from the studies to create a safety rating for the cameras or a combination of safety devices to guide taxi cab drivers and companies in decision making regarding equipping taxis with safety equipment or providing safety training.

    Current Statistics on Problem
    According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there were 74 Ground & Transportation workplace fatalities in 2007. Of those workers who perished in the workplace, 50% died from homicide. Within the subcategory of “Taxi Service” 34 fatalities occurred, with 82% being attributed to homicide. These percentages were exceeded by very few other industry sectors. Of the approximately 333,000 Taxi and Chauffeurs employed in the United States, the fatality rate was 18.6 per 100,000 workers. According to a 2005 survey on Workplace Violence Prevention by BLS, 42 % of all transportation companies failed to provide any electronic security measures, while 48% failed to provide any physical security measures.

    Additional Risks Associated with the Industry
    The Bureau of Labor Statistics has identified two major types of categories that contribute to workplace fatalities, transportation accidents and homicide. Private sector service providing industries recorded 48 percent of all fatal work injuries in 2007. Workplace homicides rose 13 percent to 610 in 2007 after reaching a series low of 540 in 2006.

    The 2007 Bureau of Labor Statistics includes data on fatal occupational injuries resulting from transportation accidents and homicides. It contains occupational classifications which include mobile workers. The classifications include occupations in Transit and Ground Passenger Transportation and the subcategory Taxi Service. The Death Rate category includes the combination of transportation and homicide as a percentage of occupation classification fatalities. In 2007, the Death Rate for Transit and Ground Passenger Transportation was 97.30% and for Taxi Service was 97.92%.

    Delay in locating vehicles involved in transportation accidents lowers the probability of survival. Additionally, many times calls are made to the 911 systems and the caller does not know their exact location. Having a precise accident location immediately after the event will lead to a higher survival rate in injury related accidents. Deploying technology to locate workers at the moment of distress allows for rapid decision making in response to unplanned events. The insurance industry should move to adopt technologically based tracking capability during emergency distress situations for mobile workers historically vulnerable to being victims of transportation fatalities and homicides.

    APL with Emergency Distress Features Technology
    When an emergency occurs, first responders must be able to respond to the exact location of the transportation worker in distress. Existing vehicle based tracking technology, known as Automated Vehicle Locating (AVL) technology, does not provide a comprehensive solution. We have developed a technology (TrekServ) that provides the precise location of the transportation worker with software loaded on a GPS enabled cellular phone. Since this technology tracks the person instead of the vehicle, a process called Automated Personnel Locating (APL), allows first responders ability to know exactly where the transportation worker in distress is located.

    I am an occupational health graduate student at the George Washington University and am hoping to get in touch with Dr. Menndez, the author of this blog. I hope to conduct an analysis similar to the one proposed by NIOSH for my final research project in my MPH curriculum.

    I would use some data collected last summer on New York taxi drivers. We collected both health and safety data. The health data is very interesting, but I would like to turn our attention to the safety aspect, focusing on risk factors for violence against the drivers. Could you please contact me?

    Thank you kindly.

    hello, my name is Kiran and I am a 22yr old daughter of a cab driver. I dont know what to do exactly but my father is a yellow cab driver in new york city, my father was hit by a car and was knocked unconsciouss as he was hurt before the other car called the ambulance they went into my fathers pockets and stole all the money he had made that night and more.

    then he arrived at the hospital robbed. I am so deeply angry and sad that people would hurt honest hardworking cabdrivers just trying to make ends meat. all i want to do is help others know and help cab drivers be more safe and prevent any violation or disrespect. Im not sure what sharing my story will do but i needed to let ppl know that cabdrivers are people who work hard and have families and daughters.

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