TAXI DRIVER SAFETY
Understanding the inherent dangerous nature of the industry
Understanding the nature and personalities of people.
Learning to "read" your customer.
Learning and understanding the basic safety rules.
Weapons - the none use of and why.
Prostitution - your legal guidelines
Needles - the extreme danger of drugs/disease
Hostility and negativism
It is extremely important that all taxi drivers, especially those of you t
hat are new to the business, to
understand the dangerous and complex nature of the industry itself,
to understand some of the dynamics,
to learn how not to become a victim.
The danger of the being a taxi driver
The taxi driver business is a very different one from most occupations,
and there is a very real and high
risk of personal danger to each driver, and it appears to be
getting steadily worse each year, and the
statistics bear this out.
The reasons for this are actually very simple in nature, seemingly unrealistic,
but they are true, and they are as follows:
- You work alone
- You work all types of long,
- You work in isolated areas.
- You always have ready cash
- People perceive that you have the lowliest job of all, and
- therefor you are of no human value.
- You are always dealing with strangers.
- The very nature of your business, service,
- requires you to deal with everyone.
- Very often, you have a language barrier, which is difficult to deal with.
- Your own peers often cheat the public,
- thus raising disrespect and contempt
- Racism plays a factor
Understanding the nature and personalities of people
- No two people are the same, in body, or in mind.
- Some people are psychopaths with no emotions, feelings, or remorse.
- Most people you deal with are nice, but we all have our bad days
- People judge other people by their own values, with little regard for reality
Learning how to "read" your customer
- You must read up on and become familiar with "body language".
- This goes hand in hand with
- "active listening" to what the people are really saying versus what their
- "body language" is telling you.
- You must never, ever, underestimate your customer and
- what they may be capable of doing to you.
- You must never let your guard down when you have a fare in your taxi,
- irregardless of who they are, or how they are dressed or appear to be.
Learning and understanding the basic safety rules.
THE Radio and the dispatcher
- The most important piece of equipment in your taxi is your radio,
- as it connects you to your dispatcher. The dispatcher is "your lifeline".
- They are the ones who will get you help if you are in trouble.
- They are the ones who will give you accurate information
- when you need it.
- They are the ones who will "sense" when you are in trouble
- and assist you.
- They are the ones who will dispatch you for trips in a fair and
- equitable manner with all the other drivers.
- They are the ones which will keep you informed on what is happening.
- Have a good relationship with all dispatchers -
- you need them on your side.
Be alert and aware.
You must keep yourself very alert and aware of what is going on
around you at all times, whether you are
parked or driving. Take good care of yourself, be rested,
eat well, and get lots of exercise. The exercise
and movement around you will get by handling peoples luggage,
going to doors to get your customers,
opening and closing doors all contribute to the enrichment of
oxygen in your blood, which is what keeps up
your energy and awareness.
You must be alert for traffic, using defensive driving tactics,
and you must remain alert to who may be
around you when you are parked on the street or a lot.
If you don't, you are giving someone a chance to
sneak up on you and catch you by surprise.
You must be very alert whenever you have passengers in the
car with you. If you snooze....you lose!
Do not flash or display your money.
Do not wear any type of expensive watch, neck chains, or wrist bracelets.
If you do, you are providing
motivation for the person to rob you. Buy a cheap watch, etc.,
the throwaway type. Make sure , if you must
wear a neck chain, that it is very thin so that it will break
before it can strangle you. Ensure that you keep a
minimum amount of money on you, say change for a £20 bill,
get a bank account and use the ATM
machine and when you are finished for the night, simply withdraw it.
If your passenger offers you a large denomination bill, advise him you
will take him to get it changed at a
nearby store. DO NOT show him that you have money to change it.
Size up your passenger - assess risk.
Most passengers will pose some level of risk to you. Read them -
assess them, then act accordingly. You must remember this point:
Never underestimate anybody
Greet-and maintain eye contact with the fare when picking up
It is essential that you make eye contact with each and every one of your passengers, try to do it as they
are entering your vehicle. The reason is simple:
To greet them as a customer and send a subtle message
to them : "I see you - you see me - I can identify you and
I acknowledge you as a person as I do me". It
makes it harder for them to want to hurt you.
When you don't even bother to look at them, you send a
message to them- you don't care about them,
and that you are very careless and unaware. I cannot
empathize enough how important it is for you to
make eye contact with each and every passenger. Your
life may depend upon it!
Know the area well.
One of the key causes of disputes and arguments is in not
knowing your way around the city and taking your customers
by the wrong route.
This will get them angry, and disputes can quickly turn into assaults, or
worse. It is very important that you study and remember all the
routes and streets so that you minimize any negative action by the customer.
Trust your instincts.
All your life while you grew up you learned things and stored the
experiences in your mind. These learned
experiences make up our "data" banks. These banks provide
us with knowledge and understanding. These
banks are what causes your "instincts" to react.
These reactions are very real. Your gut instinct will be right
99% of the time. Listen to what your body is telling you!
Know emergency procedures
Each taxi company and limousine company has in place a
set of emergency procedure rules, for use in
different circumstances. These rules vary from company to
company and you must make a sincere effort to
learn them. They are not there for the company,
but are for you and your personal safety. Learn what the
trouble call signals are, learn where each emergency
button or switch is on the vehicle that you are driving.
Each one may be in a different location in the vehicle.
Check the locations of the switches out each day as
you enter the cab, so you remember where they are when you need them.
Always keep your windows up..
I do not mean all the way up, just open enough so that you can speak to people and get air, but they
cannot get their hand through the window to grab your hair or body and yank you out of the car or bang
your head against the glass to stun you. This will allow you to have constant fresh,
clean air, but yet be safe at the same time.
Always keep you doors locked.
This is extremely important if you are sitting at a stand, or on the street. Often you may be reading a paper
or book while waiting for that next trip, and you sure don't want someone to come up beside you on foot
without you noticing them and jerking open your door and attacking you. This also provides you the
method to force the customer into the rear seats if you wish, or to ensure they sit on the right side of the
rear seat, not behind you if at all possible. The idea is not to be taken by surprise.
Be extra careful late at night
The most dangerous hours for you to operate in are between 6:00 pm in the evening and 6:00 am in the
morning. In particular, the darkest hours between 12:00 midnight and 04:00 am. Most assaults and
robberies committed against taxi drivers occur during these late hours. At this time of the night, there a few
people around as witnesses, and many of your customers will have been drinking, and liquor always
causes trouble. And of course we all know, most criminals prefer to conduct their business in the dark
hours. Even though these can be your most tiring hours, you cannot afford to be careless and unaware.
You must maintain a high state of alertness during these periods of time.
Be aware of passengers who give you "vague" instructions
It is of utmost importance that you insist on your customer giving you a "fixed destination" as to where they
are going, before you start driving away. Write it down on your "trip sheet or log". Some customers may
say, take me to "whatever" street or give an uncertain destination. If they say, take me to the corner of
Water and Anywhere, try to make them give you an exact address.
If they are unsure and balk, read this as a sign that you should be very alert to what they are up to. If they
tell you to "just start driving - we will tell you the way", this is a classic danger signal to you. Just simply do
not move and politely advise them that the "company's policy" requires you to get an exact address.
Then when they do give it to you or what is alleged to be the address, use your radio to advise the
dispatcher of the destination address. This will serve three purposes: it will alert the dispatcher you have a
problem, it will appear that you are telling the truth about company policy, and it will give the passenger the
understanding that your dispatcher and others know where you are going.
If the passengers still refuse, then do not give them a ride!
Should the passengers suddenly direct you to take a different route or turn here-turn there routine, this is a
danger sign and you should immediately alert your dispatcher to the change of address. Your level of
danger alert should be very high at this time.
Be careful of passenger seated behind you(Primary danger Zone)
Never let passengers sit directly behind you, if at all possible. This is your primary danger zone. 80% of all
assaults and homicides are launched from the seat directly behind you, the driver. You cannot see behind
you. Ask the person to move over to the right side of the seat, use any excuse , i.e.: to balance the car,
company policy, or whatever you need, but politely get them to move. Buy a convex rear view mirror that
replaces or fits over the regular one. This will allow you 100% back seat visibility. It also sends a message
to the customer that you can see them. Keep visual eye contact through the mirror, especially if you are
suspicious. Do not stare, just enough so they are aware you are keeping an eye on them.
Keep an eye on suspicious passengers
Depending on the risk level that you have assessed your customer at, you want to keep some type of
watch over them while they are in your taxi. When you feel very uncomfortable or suspicious of your
passengers then make absolutely sure to "keep watch" on them. Your body and mind are telling you to pay
attention to these individuals so listen to them and do so. We must always, of course, be diplomatic and
mind our own business in most instances when we have passengers who we consider very low risk.
Never tell customers you had a good shift
Never, never, ever tell an inquiring customer that you have had a good day and made a lot of trips or
money. If they ask, use a little white lie, like for instance "I only got started an hour ago and its been pretty
slow., or "it's really been dead today, you are the first ride in over an hour." Be polite, but evasive. Most
people just want to make conversation, so they say "how is your day going, making a couple of bucks
today" or "Have you been really busy, I hope so." Many people mean well, they know you work long, hard
hours, and they are sincere in hoping you are making out all right. On the other hand they may be "feeling
you out" to see if you are worth robbing. Gently try to change the subject without being impolite or nasty.
Carry a spare key
It is a good idea to have a spare key for the taxi you drive, get them made if need be, and carry it in your
left pocket by itself, not on a chain. Should you be robbed, what will probably happen is that the robbers
will rip out your radio mike so you cannot call for help, and may throw your keys away if they do not steal
your taxi to make the getaway. They think by doing this they are depriving you of mobility. It is most
unlikely that they will search you other than looking for your wallet and money. This way, should they leave
the taxi, or dump it a short distance away, you can get it going after they have left in order to get
assistance or press your emergency button. It also will prove it's value the day you lock yourself out of the
car while getting a cup of coffee or whatever.
Never, ever, drive into alleys or back lanes
Never do this if at all possible. Tell your customer that company policy states "no back lanes or alleys".
Some persons want you to go there for one reason: to get you out of sight where they can assault or rob
you. If you must, then back into the alley, or lane, do not get out of your taxi, use the push button control to
pop open the trunk if need be. Keep your vehicle running, in drive gear, and keep your foot on the brake
pedal. This way if things go bad you can simply step on the gas and get out of harms way. Make the
passengers get their own beer or whatever from the trunk. Do not exit the taxi - if you do you give them the
chance to attack you. Once you are away from the area, you can stop, get out and close the trunk lid.
Know your location at all times.
This is very important to be able to tell someone where you are in case you get into trouble. Nobody can
help you if they do not know where you are when you call for help. I suggest that as you drive, make a
mental note of each street you turn onto, read the street signs. The last thing you have seen is what you
remember. For example: Birmingham road south..
Besides, it helps you learn the geography.
Never take more than 4 passengers
This is a major safety factor for you. In most taxi areas , 4 persons are the maximum that you are allowed
to carry, and in some areas, only 3. You must remember, the more people in the car, the more there is to
beat up on you should they choose to do so. If you are allowed to, try never to allow people to sit in the
front seat, unless they are Special Needs Persons and have a wheelchair , and persons with guide dogs,
as it is much easier for them to access the front seat area.
Encourage the use of credit or debit cards
You may think this is a silly idea, but it is not. In today's society credit cards and the new debit cards are
being used more and more. By encouraging the use of them you cut down on the amount of cash that you
carry, but people who use credit and debit cards usually tip better when they use the cards.
Eventually, very little cash will change hands and this is the way of the future, with new meters being
developed and already some are in place to handle all cards. The use of cards is increasing every day, so
why not take advantage of it? It will provide more safety for you and on top of that, will get you more
gratuities or politely put "will increase your earnings". Besides,
you don't have to collect on the "paper" your owner does while you keep the cash.
Do not be aggressive or argumentative.
This type of behaviour will always cause you a lot of grief, and may help escalate a minor disagreement
into a violent confrontation, with you being the loser most of the time, and even if you win, you could be
charged by the police for assault should the customer complain. Stay calm and controlled.
You cannot think if you lose control.
Keep calm - do not panic
Yes, this is easy to say, but hard to put into practise. It is most important that you stay as calm as possible.
Be afraid - sure, we all are at one time or another. But, we must call on our innermost resources to stay
calm and in control of the situation to a point. An easy way to do this is to say to yourself - "I have a family
waiting for me at home - I can get out of this!" Think about your family in a positive manner, this will build
inner strength and courage and will help you to temper your actions. Just keep saying to yourself - "Stay
calm - I can get out of this!" It is most important that you keep this mind-set as it will help you stay calm.
DO NOT RESIST a robbery (co-operate)
The best advice we can give you. Offer no resistance - just comply with the bad guy. If you resist you are
going to escalate the situation drastically and you will be (not may be ) injured or even worse, murdered. It
is just not worth it. We know you worked hard for that money, but a wise man is one who lives to work
another day. If you get stabbed, shot, or beaten around the head, you will be severely injured, perhaps
crippled for life, or dead. You will be of no assistance to your family, but will become a liability. Remember,
what the robber wants is your money, maybe the car. Give it to him, even put the
mailbox off the street in the trunk if he wants, but do not resist.
Try to stall
Most bad guys are in a rush. They know that time is on your side, not theirs. They want to do the deed, and
get out of there, so they will not be seen or caught by anybody. We suggest that you comply with the
demands, stay calm, and as we call it "walk the bad guy through" just as if it were a regular transaction.
Tell him that you will comply, keep a steady quiet voice, do not show fear or beg, ( this could trip off some
type of persons who love to dominate others). Tell the bad guy that you are going to give him the money
he wants, and tell him what you are doing each step of the way. Tell him your money is in your pocket
under your jacket - before you reach for it. we do not want him to think we are going for a weapon. Tell him
there is no need to harm you, you will comply with his demands. Pretend that he is just a regular customer,
you are giving him change, and sending him on his way. They will yell and scream at you to hurry, so don't
be too slow, just careful. Talk quietly to him in a complying manner, but not too timidly.
Communicate with your dispatcher
When the robbery is finished, or you are able to, immediately call your dispatcher with the trouble code,
your call sign, and your exact location. You want the world to know where you are, especially the other
drivers on your radio channel so they can help you. If you are able to, without being noticed, trip your
emergency button or switch on the taxi. This will alert others that there is a problem. It is most important
that your give your location in a very clear, concise matter, so that you are understood by all.
If they cannot understand you, how can they help you!
Do not threaten
In your taxi, you must maintain control at all times of both yourself and the situation at hand. Never ever
threaten any person with violence if they won't pay, can't pay, or are acting up. If you do this, you will most
probably provoke a most unpleasant occurrence in which most cases, you will be the loser. You can
always work your way out of a problem or harm if you think it out first. If you lose your temper,
you lose control, and that is when you get into trouble.
Look for an escape opportunity
As in any situation, for example Defensive Driving, we must always be preparing an escape route or plan.
If you are being robbed, think about it without showing any sign of it to the robber. It is a move of last
resort, so plan it carefully. Then, only if you can do so without injury to yourself, make your move. Try to do
it in a populated, well-lit area, like an intersection, a store lot, anywhere there are people and lighting.
Remember, it is an action of last resort. It is good sometimes when you are idle, to think through ideas of
this nature under different circumstances, so that if you should need to act,
then you may have some idea of what to do.
Memorize the suspect's description
When the attack or robbery is finished, immediately take pen or pencil and write down everything you can
remember about the suspect, so that you can make a good witness for the police. Try to remember these
details: sex, race, age, height, weight, hair colour and style, eye colour, scars or tattoo's, body marks,
glasses, facial hair, voice - high/low, accented , ethnic, stuttering or other voice defects. The clothing,
jacket, shirt, pants, shoes, and last but not least the type of weapon used, and exactly what the suspect
said to you. If you can do this while your memory is fresh, it will greatly help in the apprehension of the
suspect and his conviction. These bad guys do get caught more often than you believe, through good
descriptions provided. We want to send a message to the world that we will do everything to catch the
person and convict them for what they have done to us.