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Taxicab Driver Personal Safety Jerry Kozubal Manitoba Taxicab Board IATR 2008
Driving a taxicab is an important public transportation service and one of the most dangerous occupations in North America. • Ataxicab driver is 60 times more likely to be murdered on the job than the average worker. In Canada there have been 158 taxicab drivers killed since 1917. • In Manitoba there have been 10 taxicab drivers killed while on duty since 1945.
The murder of taxicab driver, Pritam Deol on July 17, 2001 sparked an active campaign by the taxicab industry in Winnipeg to make cameras and safety shields mandatory in all taxicabs. • Following an extensive review of safety measures used by taxicabs in various jurisdictions, eighteen recommendations were made to the Minister of Transportation to improve taxicab driver safety. The taxicab industry in Winnipeg fully supported the recommendations.
Implementation of the safety recommendations involved the taxicab industry, the Taxicab Board and other key partners. Three industry committees were formed to assess various recommendations. Each committee dealt with recommendations that were grouped into training, community relations or safety issues. • The safety committee was given the responsibility to identify suitable safety enhancement options, assess each option, and to make recommendations to the Taxicab Board for implementation.
Policies and procedures were drafted to ensure customer privacy and restricted access to the camera images. • On April 4, 2002 the Safety Committee Working Group made a unanimous recommendation that the Silent Witness “Fareview” camera system would be installed in all City of Winnipeg taxicabs.
On April 10, 2002 the Manitoba Taxicab Board approved an amendment to the Taxicab Regulations to make the use of the in-cab camera mandatory in all standard and accessible taxicabs. • This decision would require that all 430 standard and accessible taxicabs have a camera system installed by July 1, 2002. The mandatory in-cab camera was the first of a number of safety measures recommended to reduce taxicab driver robberies, assaults and homicides.
For almost two years the Manitoba Taxicab Board and the taxicab industry worked together to implement the 18 recommendations that were identified in the Taxicab Safety Issues Report that was released in October 2001. • A number of voluntary recommendations have also been introduced or enhanced to improve driver safety. • An approved first aid kit must be in the taxicab at all time effective July 1, 2002. • An approved safety shield must be installed on the driver’s seat at all times effective January 8, 2003.
Improvements to the taxicab driver training program. Better screening for English language skills. • Training for all taxicab drivers on the security features of the in-cab camera. All 1600 taxicab drivers must attend before their taxicab driver's licence can be renewed. • The introduction of a 25 cents safety surcharge, in December 7, 2001 to pay for all the safety initiatives. This surcharge was approved to remain in place for 3 years. The safety surcharge was removed on September 1, 2003 at the request of the taxicab industry as all safety measures have been implemented and paid for by the safety surcharge.
Taxicabs that are equipped with GPS (80%) must have the system working properly at all times. • Prepayment of fares is an option that can be exercised at the driver’s discretion. • All taxicabs must have a driver controlled trunk lock. • Improved training for all taxicab drivers that includes profiling of high-risk areas based on police crime data. • The development of a taxicab driver training program designed to enhance driver skills to recognize and assess risks, and how to defuse potentially hostile situations.
Each taxicab owner and dispatch company has developed a Work Alone Plan that is reviewed with each employee to ensure they understand all the safety measures and company policy with respect to worker safety. WORK ALONE PLAN Name of Business: _________________________________________ Name of Owner: _________________________________________ Taxicab Board Number(s): __________________________________
Winnipeg taxicabs operate with no fixed route or schedule for periods varying up to 24 continuous hours for some cabs. The following are possible risks a taxi driver face during his/her shift: • Robbery • Highjacking of cab • Abusive, threatening behavior • Physical assault • Traffic disputes/accidents • Fare disputes • Various combination of the above
Emergency assistance is depended on a third party, such as a dispatcher, police, other taxicab drivers or the public, to come to the aid of the taxi driver. The following safety devices help protect drivers from risks to their safety and health while driving taxicabs. • The following safety devices are in place to help drivers keep safe and get assistance when issues occur while driving taxicab in the City of Winnipeg.
SAFETY DEVICES: Please check those items that apply • Safety Shield: The safety shield will reduce the risk of injury caused by assaults on taxicab drivers from passengers in the rear seat. The safety shield will not protect you against all possible dangers. A second shield or dividing partition may be used in a taxicab to provide greater protection. Ensure that all brackets and belts are tightened and shield is secure. • In-car Camera The in-car camera will identify suspects by recording their images of all passengers that enter the taxicab. At the start of each shift, taxi driver will ensure camera system is working properly.
Driver-Controlled Trunk Lock The driver-controlled trunk lock is a safety precaution in cases where leaving the taxicab to open the trunk may pose a threat to a driver. • Flashing Roof Light The purpose of the flashing roof light is to act as a means of emergency communication to alert others in circumstances where the driver is faced with an immediate threat to his/her safety. • First Aid Kit The contents of the first aid kit are to be offered/used for temporary assistance until paramedic/hospital staff is able to provide qualified emergency assistance.
Cell Phones The cell-phone with programmed messages for the driver to use in an emergency to call police, dispatcher, and/or buddy. • Two-way Radio The two-way radio is the direct line of communication between the driver and dispatcher. • Dispatch Office To provide dispatch services and monitor activity of taxicab drivers while on duty and provide assistance in event of an emergency. • Global Positioning System The GPS provides safety for the driver by providing instant location of the vehicle at any given time. The two largest dispatch companies have GPS in their taxicabs.
Getting Assistance: • Activate emergency roof light to attract attention to your vehicle • Activate GPS to advise dispatcher of problem and whereabouts • Activate the in-car camera (panic button) to store images of the assailant • If possible contact dispatcher through two-way radio advise of situation • Use cell phone to call police, dispatcher and/or buddy • First aid kit is in the trunk of the vehicle
Keep Safe: • Ensure all equipment is secure and functioning properly before start of shift • Buddy system • When cleaning the vehicle of any mess left by passengers remember to use rubber gloves and proper disinfectants to kill all potential germs/viruses.
I have read, understand and agree to follow the work alone plan. • Name of business: _____________________________________ • Signature of employee/driver: _______________________________________ • Signature of employer/owner: ____________________________________ • Date: ____________________ • Both employee and employer are to have a signed copy. • Corporations to submit one copy to • Workplace Safety and Health • Manitoba Department of Labour
Passenger information • Taxicab passengers are informed that there is a camera in use in the taxicab. A highly visible sign on the rear passenger windows contains the following information: • This vehicle is equipped with a security camera • You are on camera • Authorized by the Taxicab Board
Effectiveness of in-cab camera • In the first few months after introducing the in-cab camera, taxicab drivers were providing anecdotal information that there was a reduction in fare jumpers and that rowdy passengers were more subdued when in a taxicab with a camera system. • An independent source of crime data maintained by the Winnipeg Police Service indicated that for the calendar year 2002 there were 20 fewer reported taxicab robberies that in the previous year. This represented a reduction of 71 % in serious taxicab crimes since the in-cab cameras were introduced in Winnipeg taxicabs.
When 2003 is compared to 2001, the year before the in-cab camera was introduced, taxicab robberies and other violent taxicab crimes have been reduced by 79 % in Winnipeg. • During the same period in 2003, reported crime in the City of Winnipeg increased by 10.5 %. • Since the introduction of the in-cab camera, the police service has reported an increase in the arrest rate with respect to taxicab robberies and assaults. • The arrest rate in 2001 was 35 %. In the two years after the in-cab cameras were introduced, the arrest rates were 50 % for 2002 and 66 % for 2003.
Taxicab driver acceptance • A survey conducted in July 2003 found that taxicab drivers were overwhelmingly in favor of the in-cab camera. • Over 86 % of the taxicab drivers surveyed said they felt they were much safer now when driving taxicabs because of the in-cab camera.
Customer privacy assured • The Taxicab Board and the Winnipeg Police Service developed a protocol and procedures to ensure the security of the camera images. • The images are downloaded from the camera memory only when a crime has been reported to the police service or offence has been reported under the jurisdiction of the Taxicab Act.
Only the Taxicab Board and the Winnipeg Police Service have the proprietary software to download images from the in-cab camera. • The police have used images obtained from the in-cab camera as evidence in criminal investigations. The police have on occasion posted images obtained from the in-cab camera of suspects on the police website as part of their investigation.
Ombudsman’s Office review • An external review of the Taxicab Board’s in-cab camera policies and procedures was conducted by the Manitoba Ombudsman’s Office in response to privacy concerns raised by the public. • The investigation was done to ensure the collection, storage and use of in-cab camera images was compliant with The Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA). • The Ombudsman’s Office concluded that “the collection, use, and disclosure of digital images would be authorized and limited to the amount reasonably necessary under FIPPA.
It is also our view that the collection, use, and disclosure of personal information would be necessary, effective, and proportional to enhancing driver’s safety. • Based on our review, it would appear that the Board has made reasonable arrangements for the retention and security of the personal information. • Accordingly, it is our opinion that all these measures comply with the provisions of FIPPA.”
The use of an in-cab camera system is a cost effective measure that is effective in reducing taxicab crime and in improving taxicab driver safety. • Taxicab drivers indicate they feel safer driving a taxicab since the in-cab cameras were introduced in local taxicabs. • Police data shows that taxicab robberies have been reduced significantly since the introduction of the in-cab camera. Where taxicab robberies and assaults have occurred, the arrest rate has improved as the result of images obtained from the in-cab camera.
The general public and in particular the taxicab customers have accepted the in-cab camera as an effective security measure that is designed to enhance the taxicab driver’s safety and also improves the passenger’s safety.
Additional information about Manitoba Taxicab Board initiatives can be found on our web-site • www.gov.mb.ca/mit/taxicab • Copies of our newsletter “The TripSheet” are available at the conference and can also be found on our web-site