If so, you may not be aware that taxi drivers in our nation’s cities are on the top ten most dangerous jobs list. We aren’t trying to keep you from taking a cab, but only to point out the many hazards these persons whose occupations are driving people around day and night come face to face with.
The ratio of deaths per 100,000 workers is 24 annually. In 2000, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration reported that 183.8 taxicab drivers per 1,000 were injured from assaults or other violent acts.
Safety training is crucial for potential drivers. They get valuable advice from experienced drivers on how to reduce their risk of violence. Working alone, drivers must learn how to read their customers, and never trust anyone, regardless of how well-dressed or well-mannered they may seem.
In New York City, only Yellow Cabs with medallions are allowed to pick up fares off the streets. (This comes from the 1930’s, and is regulated by the NYC Taxi and Limousine Commission. Medallion numbers are on the side of the cab.) Gypsy cabs are licensed, and will take customers to many isolated areas that other cabs will not. The cabs and minivans may be any color but yellow. Many drivers are from other countries, may have a problem with language, and are treated with hostility by some passengers. Another “fun” part of drivers’ jobs is dealing with inebriated customers.
There are many safety precautions that drivers should take: OSHA recommends having an open mike switch on the taxi; bullet-proof shield partitions, and on-board cameras.
Other safety ideas are:
- Don’t carry a lot of cash; ask fare to use debit/credit cards if possible.
- Don’t discuss that you have had a good shift with passengers.
- If they need change for big bills, tell them you do not carry change- you will have to stop at a store before you can make change.
- Know the city’s emergency procedures.
- Know trouble call signals.
- Practice defensive driving.
- Don’t wear jewelry, especially necklaces.
- Have a good relationship with your company dispatcher; they may be your lifeline.
- Keep a flashlight and first aid kit in your taxi or van.
- Keep windows rolled up, and doors locked.
- GPS devices help your company track your whereabouts.
Many cabs are equipped with a danger light located beneath the rear license plate, on the left side of the trunk, or in the front grill of the vehicle, which can be switched on by the driver to alert the police to trouble. Drivers learn through experience how to watch for threatening circumstances and make split-second decisions for self-protection. They must be constantly vigilant, never letting their guard down.
The next time you need transportation to or from an airport, or another destination, remember the person behind the wheel has a big responsibility with each and every fare – getting them safely to their destination and staying safe himself in the process.