Workplace Violence and Safety for Taxi Drivers in America

Although according to the FBI yearly report crime statistics in the USA are down, the odds of workplace violence for professional taxi drivers remains one the highest in the United States.

Between 1994 and 2013 there was an average of 34 deaths a year for taxi and livery drivers.

While the stats are alarming, they are not that difficult to understand. There are several risk factors associated with workplace violence within the taxi industry.

Risk Factors in the Taxi Industry

  • Dealing with cash
  • Dealing with the public
  • Dealing with strangers
  • Working alone
  • Working at night and
  • Working in isolated areas

Taxi Driver Killed in Denver in 2015 – Could it Have Been Prevented?

Darren Bloomquist, a metro Denver Colorado taxi cab driver was shot and killed on Sept 05, 2015.  Although the local industry was understandably shaken by the event, several of Mr. Bloomquist’s colleagues stated they know they face danger every day.  Robberies are very common, or were, until some cab companies took measures to insure a much safer environment for their employees – cameras.

Although recommended by OSHA back in 2000, cab companies have been sluggish to respond and taxi cab drivers remain in the top 10 of the most dangerous jobs in the countries.  In 2013 OSHA released a report stating that those companies that have installed in-vehicle security cameras  significantly reduced the number of taxi cab homicides.

Taxi Library

Charles Rathbone has been in the industry since 1975 when he worked as a “cabbie” in the San Francisco.  Today he manages a fleet of 200 taxis and maintains a website for taxi cab drivers to inform, educate and connect them to information gleaned worldwide.

Taxi Library is a non-commercial educational website serving the taxicab industry worldwide. It provides an extensive collection of documents and links relating to the taxi business, which is a private segment of municipal and rural transportation systems throughout the world.

Interestingly enough, the website has a special page dedicated to “homicide prevention.”   Can you imagine your workplace with a webpage dedicated to helping you stay alive?  Imagine all this danger for a modest income averaging $33,000 a year.

Workplace Safety for Taxi Drivers

Along with the very obvious – the installation of in-vehicle security cameras, what else can be offered to assist the safety and security of taxi cab drivers in the US?

  1. Train Taxi Drivers:

Remind drivers not to be complacent about safety. What to look out for in a suspicious passenger and how to use their emergency communication systems/devices. Not to chase someone if they fail to pay. Keep an eye on passengers in the rear view mirror. Always remind single passengers NOT to sit directly behind the driver. Be alert to danger areas. Maintain their cool.

  1. Arrange a Code Word for Dispatchers/Drivers:

Arrange to have a code word that can be used by the driver to warn the dispatcher of a possible problem customer. The code word can alert the dispatcher without the customer knowing that you are concerned.

  1. Install Full Spectrum Rear View Mirrors in Every Taxi:

The use of a rear view mirror that can see the entire rear seat lets passengers know that you can pay attention to everyone in the rear of the taxi.

  1. Never Send a Taxi To a Vague Location:

Always ensure that dispatchers are clear about where the customer is being picked up from and where they are going to. Communicate any concerns. Trust your 6th senses always!