UNIVERSITY OF SOUTH AUSTRALIA


TAXI SAFETY INITIATIVES STUDY


Final Report




27 March 1997





Dr. Ian Radbone, Transport Systems Centre,
in association with Symonds Travis Morgan, Consultants


TABLE OF CONTENTS

  • Executive summary

  • 1. Introduction
    • 1.1 Approach taken by this study
  • 2. The nature of the problem
    • 2.1. Introduction
    • 2.2. Taxi driver safety elsewhere
    • 2.3. The situation in Adelaide
      • 2.3.1. South Australian Taxi Association reports
      • 2.3.2. Workcover data
      • 2.3.3. The TSC questionnaire survey
      • 2.3.6. Focus groups
    • 2.4. The context in which safety measures are being discussed
  • 3. Options for improving taxi driver safety
    • 3.1. Introduction
    • 3.2. Non-technological options
      • 3.2.1. Pro-active measures
        • 3.2.1.1. Removing cash from the cab
        • 3.2.1.2. Public education
      • 3.2.2. Preventative measures
        • 3.2.2.1. Training
        • 3.2.2.2. Prepayment of fares
        • 3.2.2.3. Supervision of taxi ranks
        • 3.2.2.4. A ban on window advertising
      • 3.2.3. Reactive measures
        • 3.2.3.1. Rewards
      • 3.2.4. Other non-technological measures
        • 3.2.4.1. Improving relations with police
        • 3.2.4.2. Removal of seat belt requirements for drivers
        • 3.2.4.3. Increasing fines for fare evasion
    • 3.3. Technological options
      • 3.3.1. Pro-active measures
      • 3.3.2. Preventative measures
        • 3.3.2.1. Protective Screens
        • 3.3.2.2. Gutter side lights
      • 3.3.3. Reactive measures
        • 3.3.3.1.Radio alarms
        • 3.3.3.2. Duress Lights/Signs
        • 3.3.3.3. Surveillance cameras
        • 3.3.3.4. Vehicle Tracking Systems
        • 3.3.3.5. Internal boot release mechanisms
      • 3.3.4. Other technological measures
        • 3.3.4.1. Central locking
        • 3.3.4.2. Electric shocks
      • 3.4. Summary, conclusions
        • 3.4.1. Conclusions
  • 4. Conclusions and recommendations
    • 4.1. Introduction
    • 4.2. Taxi driver safety - whose responsibility?
      • 4.2.1. Taxi dnvers responsibility
      • 4.2.2. Taxi owners' responsibility:
      • 4.2.3. Radio companies' responsibility
      • 4.2.4. Passenger Transport Board responsibility
    • 4.3. What degree of compulsion should be used?
    • 4.4. Appropriate institutional arrangements

  • Footnotes

  • References

  • Appendices
    • Appendix 1: Terms of Reference (Not included in this InterNet version. If needed, obtain from the author.)
    • Appendix 2: Taxi driver safety questionnaire (Not included in this InterNet version. If needed, obtain from the author.)
    • Appendix 3: Focus group report
    • Appendix 4: Letter from Terry Smythe to the Mayor of London, Ontario
    • Appendix 5: South Australia's taxi driver safety training modules
    • Appendix 6: Taxi driver safety - Gordon Barton's training modules
  • Figures
    • Figure 2.1 - Reported Incidents, SATA data
    • Figure 2.2 - Incidence of fare evasion (runners) in past twelve months
    • Figure 2.3 - Incidence of verbal abuse in past twelve months
    • Figure 2.4 - Reasons for not reporting verbal abuse
    • Figure 2.5 - Safety devices in taxi
    • Figure 2.6 - Taxi drivers opinions on the usefullness of safety devices
    • Figure 2.7 - Operational measures rated by taxi drivers


Executive summary

Taxi driver Andrew Morowicz was murdered while responding to a radio booking in the early hours of the morning of 30 September 1996. This incident, together with reports of less serious assaults on taxi drivers in the course of their shifts in Adelaide, focussed the attention of the taxi industry, the Passenger Transport Board (PTB) and the travelling public on security issues as they affect taxi drivers. The concern is not unique to Adelaide. There had been at least one taxi driver murdered in the course of a shift in each mainland state capital in Australia in the 12 months before Mr Morowicz' 5 death.

The PTB commissioned the Transport Systems Centre, University of South Australia and Symonds Travers Morgan, transport consultants, to review the nature of incidents against taxi drivers and the effectiveness of measures to improve driver security. The study was to consider experience elsewhere and research the frequency and severity of assaults in Adelaide so as to support the assessment of the effectiveness of security measures for the city's taxi fleet.

Taxi driving is well known as a relatively dangerous occupation and by most statistical surveys it easily leads the field of legitimate occupations when it comes to death and injury at the hands of other people. In the United States a National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health study indicates that taxi industry has 60 times the average rate of homicides in the course of work as the average occupation. In Australia, a study of the Newcastle taxi industry concluded that taxi drivers in that city are 28 times more likely to be assaulted and 66 times more likely to be robbed than other members of the public.

The study suggested that there is a pattern to the type of incidents against taxi drivers in other states. Most assaults occur at night, over half between midnight and 6am. Almost half of the attackers were alcohol affected. Few of the assaults are reported to the police because the drivers feel it is not worth pursuing any but the most serious incidents.

This study collected data from focus group discussions, a questionnaire survey, an analysis of South Australian Taxi Association incident report forms and Workcover incident report forms. It also used data emanating from the Transport Systems Centre's Baseline Study. As a result we are reasonably confident about the nature of incidents in terms of the circumstances in which they occur. However levels of reporting are such that we are not confident of our knowledge about the extent of such incidents.

The pattern emerging from the various data sources is that assaults against taxi drivers in Adelaide are comparable with those reported in other Australian cities. Figure 1 is extracted from the SATA data.




In making recommendations on these options we are influenced by three factors:

  1. awareness of clear disagreements within the industry over the value of some options when compared to the costs.

  2. a lack of confidence on the authors' part about our knowledge about the actual extent of violence and

  3. a general preference for the view that those affected by potential victimisation and the costs of countering it should be those to make the decisions on what measures to take.




As a result, although we make many suggestions regarding these measures we are reluctant to recommend that any should be compulsory, except higher training and entry standards for drivers and the virtually costless internal boot release.

Fare evasion is clearly the most common form of victimisation and an understandable concern for drivers. However we also note that the Baseline's study of over 400 worksheets filled in during December found only two cases of"runners" (i.e. fare evaders) despite the drivers specifically being asked to report such incidents.

A similar distribution can be derived from the survey responses obtained for this study. However, the low number of responses requires some caution in the interpretation of the detail, as do factors affecting who would be likely to respond to the questionnaire. Some 80% of respondents had experienced fare evasion ("a runner") at least once in the previous 12 months, 75% verbal abuse, 64% damage to the taxi and 61% physical assault. Seven (of the 74 respondents) had been robbed during the year.

The numbers of drivers responding to both the SATA call for incident reports and the TSC questionnaire survey are small, but the findings are consistent. The overwhelming majority occur at night, by young men who are typically affected by alcohol. Passengers picked up by street hail are eight times as likely to cause an incident than those booked.

Levels of reporting are low because of a feeling that no one will do anything about it. Even Workcover reporting of assaults is low. Inadequate protection of drivers under workers compensation and occupational health legislation is as much the result of the industry structure and ignorance of drivers as it is to ambiguity in the legislation itself

In Adelaide, and in other Australian cities where the problem has been studied, the taxi industry is divided about the effectiveness of measures to counter assaults on drivers. Respondents to our survey suggest that while some of the technical solutions have merit, the focus should be on preventative approaches rather than better apprehension of offenders. Video cameras were felt to be a reasonable initiative if they were compulsory, clearly visible and continuously recording using a vehicle-based black box system. It was generally held that the government and the PTB should play a significant role in ffinding any trial initiatives. They also felt that the actual effectiveness of particular options should be careflilly evaluated in cases where significant costs would be imposed on owners.

We have examine many options for improving taxi driver safety and in each case commented on their applicability to Adelaide. An adequate summary of the discussion is not possible, however the following table reveals at least some of our thinking:


Taxi driver safety options, summary matrix

Issue Addressed Effectiveness Financial Cost Comments
Removing Cash from cab robbery, assault ++ + Unpopular with drivers and some passengers
Public Education fare evasion, assault + ? Cost depends on nature of education
Training various +++ ++ Costs borne by drivers. Will have many side benefits, though will restrict supply of drivers.
Pre-Payment of Fares fare evasion, assault to driver and vehicle +++ --- May damage customer relations
Supercision of taxi ranks various ++ ++ Would need to be targeted to be cost effective
Banning rear window ads assault + ++ Ongoing hidden cost. Would only help in peopled locations
Rewards serious crime + ? Cost (and effectiveness) can depend on amount offered. Good for industry morale.
Improving relations with police various ++ --- Past record shows very difficult to achieve, despite mutual benefits
Removal of seat belt requirements fare evasion, assault + --- Danger in vehicle accidents may outweigh security gains
Increasing fines for fare evasion fare evasion ? --- Would help industry morale. Expiation fees would make more effective
Protective screens assault +++
(while seated in car)
++ Unpopular with many drivers. The more effective need purpose built vehicles.
Gutter side lights various + + Has useful side benefits
Radio Alarms various ++ ++
Duress alarms various + + Danger of false activations. Only effective in peopled areas.
Surveillance cameras various +++
(for activities in car)
+++ Also protect customers. Privacy implications.
Vehicle tracking systems serious assault +
(++ in conjunction with radio alarms)
+++ Have other benefits which may justify costs
Internal boot releases robbery, assault +++ + Cheap, but rarely needed. Not effective as a general measure to increase security.
Centralised locking fare evasion +++ + Danger of misuse. Use to prevent 'runners' may be illegal.
Electric Shocks various +++ + Use would be unacceptable.

We are attracted to those measures that offer other benefits beside increased safety, such as increased training, GPS and video cameras. But we would we leave the adoption of such measures to the companies and individuals concerned, restricting government action to a possible partial subsidy.

The possibility of compulsory screens may emerge in the longer run if authorities ever decided to speci~ particular sorts of vehicles as taxis, both to ensure wheelchair accessibilty and to provide taxis with an identifiable image, separate from those of hire cars. At this stage we do not have the evidence to suggest the number of incidents which would be prevented by screens is such as to justify the costs.

Taxi driver safety is an area in which improvements should be determined by those affected by them. Governments should use their resources and authority as a service to the industry rather than adopt a paternalistic approach. Measures adopted should have the consent of the industry and indeed emerge from the industry.

We therefore recommend a strengthening of the Taxi Driver Safety Committee to include elected representatives of drivers from each radio company, who would be adequately compensated for the loss of earnings their membership on the committee would entail. The committe could also be strengthened by the presence of a police representative and a lawyer specialising in labour matters. A revamped committee would have as among its functions

  • advising the government on policies that require the imposition of authority - mandatory measures

  • monitoring and evaluating safety measures such as training

  • conducting a debriefing by victims and ensuring that their legal rights are exercised

  • supervising mentoring and counselling programs

  • maintaining a database of passenger offences and convicted offenders

  • advising the government on the expenditure of flinds for safety measures


INTRODUCTION

The Taxi Safety Initiatives Project was instigated as a result of the death an Adelaide taxi driver, Andrew Mordowycz in September 1996. In October the Passenger Transport Board engaged the Transport Systems Centre, University of South Australia and Symonds Travers Morgan to undertake the project.

While obviously the government and industry are very concerned to see that such tragic events do not reoccur, the terms of reference require us to inquire further. The terms of reference are attached as Appendix 1. Briefly, the project is required "identify circumstances in which the safety of drivers is jeopardised and help determine what measures should be taken to improve the safety of drivers".

The initial timelines were short - an interim report by 10 December and a final report by the end of the year. Although the interim report was produced, a decision by the Passenger Transport Board to conduct trials with in-cab video surveillance cameras with some involvement by the project team has resulted in the final date for the report being shifted to March. (The trials are continuing beyond March and so only tentative, interim comments about these are provided in this report.)

The Passenger Transport Board has undertaken a number of other initiatives to improve driver safety beside the video trials and the current study. It commissioned a series of television advertisements asking householders to leave their front lights on when they have booked a cab at night and it has built into the latest fare increase a surcharge equivalent of 1% of the total fare to cover the cost of initiatives to be taken.

If the concerns of taxi drivers are to be addressed we should adopt the term used in the widely respected report of taxi drivers in three Canadian cities by Philip Stenning - victimization. Our surveys, particularly the focus groups (see. s.2.3.6), have revealed that many drivers are as much concerned about the way they suffer from day to day occurrences of victimization - verbal abuse, passengers reflising to pay or running off without paying and so on - as they are about the threat of physical injury.

Approach taken by this study

In the course of the focus groups discussed below, one participant commented:

I am really sorry that Andrew died. I know that it takes an event like this to get anyone to listen but I hope they get it right. The main thing we have to deal with is day-to-day violence, not murders and muggings. Let's not over-react. My only hope is that Andrew's death can focus everyone on how we deal with it ... violence in general not just the incident. The last thing we need is some pie-in-the- sky solution dreamed up by the boffins. It would probably cost us a fortune and probably wouldn't work.
We have come to agree with all this. In the course of this study we have come to the conclusion that taxi driver safety is one in which "experts" should be cautious, if not humble. This is for three reasons.

Firstly, taxi driver safety is an area in which there is a lack of scientific evidence supporting or disproving claims. In perhaps the most careflil, extensive study of the topic, Philip Stenning found that "systematic evaluative research on the effectiveness of protective technologies for taxi drivers is largely inconclusive or non-existent."

(Stenning, 1996, p. xiv)

Our literature review has failed to reveal a single example of the effectiveness of a particular option in reducing driver danger actually being successfblly tested. There are many tests of the efficiency of various options. The current South Australian test of video surveillance is one. But to actually prove that such options reduce danger requires a long time period and large numbers. Drivers' lives are not something that can be subject to experiment and in any case there are so many variables in the real world that observers cannot hold all others still while they manipulate the one they wish to test.

This is not to say that there is no reliable evidence that can help us in making decisions. For example Charles Rathbone has carefully collected evidence of the circumstances behind over 600 taxi driver homicides in the United States to make his case for the adoption of partitions between the driver and passengers. (Rathbone, 1994)

The second reason is related to the first. There have been many attempts to gather data about incidences of taxi driver victimisation but the common theme is a recognition that the evidence uncovered is partial, limited and possibly subject to bias. Our study (see 5. 2.3.3) is no exception. Although some may be very forthcoming, taxi drivers as a whole will not contribute to surveys unless put under some pressure to do so. Those that do contribute will point out that very often they do not report incidences of victimisation. Even in the most serious cases, we are not always sure about the some key factors. For example, in the case of at least one recent Australian homicide there is some suggestion that the death was related to non-taxi activities in which the victim was involved.

In summary there is a lack of adequate evidence regarding both the nature of the danger faced by taxi drivers and the effectiveness of options to deal with danger.

The third reason for caution is that even in cases where we can be reasonably confident that a particular measure will reduce danger, whether it should be adopted or not depends on whether the reduction in danger is worth the cost. Cost should be measured in terms of inconvenience to driver and passenger and impacts on the perception of potential customers, as well as the financial cost of installation and maintenance. An extreme liberal would say that the decision as to whether the reduction in risk is wor th the cost should be made by the person subject to the risk. While we believe that this approach is not always practical, we are cautious about imposing our attitudes and values on the drivers.

These themes will be revisited in the conclusions. Guided by these factors we have adopted three approaches:

  • emphasising the views of the drivers themselves where-ever possible

  • emphasising those cases where the options involved impose trivial cost, or alternatively pifer clear side benefits

  • giving attention to the means by which decisions on taxi driver safety should be arrived at.


2. THE NATURE OF THE PROBLEM

2.1. Introduction

This section is designed to set the scene. It makes attempts to assess the extent of the problem and understand the nature of it. It does this by reference first to information from other countries and other Australian cities and then using data collected concerning Adelaide's drivers: reports provided to the South Australian Taxi Association and to Workcover, as well as a questionnaire survey and focus group discussions conducted by the project. The report of the focus groups also provides an overview of a ttitudes towards various safety measures proposed.

2.2. Taxi driver safety elsewhere

Taxi driving is well known as a relatively dangerous occupation and by most statistical survey it easily leads the field of legitimate1 occupations when it comes to death and injury at the hands of other people.

In United States the much quoted NIOSH study found that the taxicab industry has nearly 60 times the national average rate of homicides as the average occupation. While Canada has a culture of violence much closer to that of Australia, even there taxi drivers are likely to suffer 20 times the rate of "victimization" as the average employee, with 24 drivers murdered between 1991 to 1995. (Stenning, 1996, p.3)

Given the overall level of criminal violence in this Australia, this country's taxi drivers stand out as victims of violence just as much as they do in North America. While there have been no nationwide studies there have been several well -publicized murders in the past year. A taxi driver has been murdered in the course of his work in each Australian mainland state capital in the past year. Sydney suffered three murders in 1995. However it should be noted Mr Morowicz' death was the first murder of a taxi driver while on duty in Adelaide since the strangulation of Mrs Joan Mann on 17 December, 1975.

There have been several studies of violence against Australian taxi drivers in particular regions. A Newcastle study suggests that taxi drivers in that city are 28 times more likely to be assaulted and 66 times more likely to be robbed than other members of the public. (Swanton and Scandia, cited, (Easteal and Wilson, 1991, p.38))

A Queensland study has reported that at least 26% of drivers surveyed had been assaulted during their working lives and 10% reported physical injury as a result of such assaults. (James, 1993) James recorded the assailant characteristics concerning 100 Brisbane drivers. She found:

  • almost 40% were aged 20 to 24 years,

  • they were predominantly, but not exclusively, male,

  • assaults were generally carried out by individuals rather than groups,

  • over 24% of assailants hailed on street, over 15% were picked up at a rank,2

  • over 43% were under the influence of alcohol, and

  • over 13% of assaults were associated with fare evasion.

Haines and Cahill's survey of Dandenong taxi drivers found similar results. Of those who responded to the survey

  • 28% reported having been physically assaulted.

  • 70% had threats and verbal abuse

  • 21% had been robbed more than ten times

The weapons concerned were usually fists, followed by bottles and knives. No guns were reported. (Haines and Cahill, 1996)

The Victorian Taxi Driver Safety Committee has developed an incident report form to enable data to be gathered about taxi driver victimization. There was no compulsion to provide a report. But although the 97 incidents recorded over the first ten months of 1996 cannot by any means be claimed to cover all such incidents during that period, we can assume they would cover the more serious incidents. And while they would be skewed to the more serious offences, it could reasonably be assumed that they are a representative sample of each type of incident over that period.

Bearing in mind the likelihood of relatively trivial offences being most likely to be under reported, verbal abuse figured in almost half of the incidents, fare evasion in 45%. The driver was involved in a physical assault in 42% of the incidents. The taxi was damaged in 27% of the reports. There were seven reports of robbery of takings or other items. The taxi itself was stolen twice. In three cases a knife was used, but none involved a gun. Most often the passenger involved was in the front seat, although in sixteen cases the incident occured outside the taxi.

78% of the recorded incidents occured at night (six pm to six am); 57% from midnight to six am. 60% of the incidents recorded to the beginning of October involved a trip initiated from a phone booking, 13% from a taxi rank and 25% from a street hail. Although three quarters of the incidents were reported to the police, and in twelve cases the injuries suffered where either "moderate" or "serious" in only two cases was the incident reported to Workcover. (source: figures supplied by the Victorian Taxi Direct orate)

As revealing as these figures are, it is also clear that they under-represent the true rate of vicitimization, especially for more minor offences. Stenning, Keatsdale, James and the Victorian Taxi Driver Safety Committee (Victoria, 1996, s.2. 1) all comment on under reporting of victimization against drivers. Very few incidents, even those involving physical injury and robbery, are reported to police because the drivers involved do not expect the matter to be followed up. Further, the loss of earnings becau se of the time required to provide evidence to the police is often seen as much greater than the initial loss.

Haines and Cahill. found 87% of injuries were note reported to Workcover. On the other hand 24% of injuries were reported to taxi radio operators and 27% to the police. (Haines and Cahill, 1996, p.16) They comment:

"To some, incidents of verbal abuse and use of low level physical force, such as pushing and shoving 'come with the territory'. While murder and serious assault are seen as criminal, minor incidents such as verbal abuse and 'runners' may not be, either by the taxi drivers themselves, or by other interested parties such as police. This compounds problems of reporting either to police or to taxi depots and results in few accurate statistics being available on the extent of problems taxi drivers face. "(emp hasis in original).(Haines and Cahill, 1996, p.4)

2.3. The situation in Adelaide

While evidence from elsewhere is valuable and helps to prevent us reinventing the wheel, each city is different and we thought it important that we should get as clear an idea of the situation and views of Adelaide's taxi drivers as possible in the time available. Both questionnaire and focus group approaches were used. However before discussing these, we will present findings from data gathered by the South Australian Taxi Association (SATA).

2.3.1. South Australian Taxi Association reports

SATA's incident report form is based on that of the Victorian Taxi Directorate and while the same comments about the level of reporting apply, the circumstances provide a useflil opportunity to compare the situation in two reasonably similar cities.

SATA has collected 74 reports of taxi driver victimisation occuring from 19 September 1995 to 9 November 1996. Given that Melbourne has about three times as many taxis as Adelaide (and in fact the Victorian figures cover the state as a whole) this represents a significantly higher level of reportage, which can help to explain the relatively minor nature of incidents in the Adelaide reports. The overwhelming number of reports were for fare evasion (runners), some of which also were accompanied by verbal abus e. In only sixteen cases (22%) did the incident involved physical assault, damage to the taxi or robbery. (Several incidents had more than one of these.)


The important point to note here is that is is the more serious incidents which would be most likely to be reported, suggesting an even greater preponderance of fare evasion incidents. Two cases involved a knife, one a machete. No incidents involving guns were reported.

On twenty occasions a passenger involved sat in the front seat; fifteen sat in the back. On a flirther five reports the incident occured outside the cab. For the seven occasions in which injury was reported four involved the driver being assaulted outside the cab. On only one occasion was the assault just from the back seat.

As in Melbourne, 78% of the recorded incidents happened at night - 62% in the early hours of the morning. However there was a big difference in the form of hiring involved. In only 27% of cases in which the means of engagement was recorded, was the taxi booked by phone. 29% was off the rank and 44% by hail. The Baseline study has found that the means of engagement for taxi hirings as a whole is 62% office phone booking, 27% rank and only 11% hail. This means that a driver is eight times as likely to be invo lved in some sort of victimization in cases where the taxi is hailed than if the taxi were booked.

The incident was reported to the police on 45 occasions (60%). (Given that filling in the report sheet is voluntary, it is highly likely that the sample is skewed toward those who are willing to report to the police.) Despite the seven cases involving injuries, only one incident report form recorded that Workcover had been notified.

The SATA form also includes information about the trip itself and the characteristics of the offenders. While the latter were frequently not filled in, it is clear that the overwhelming majority of offenders were young and male. Of the 38 reports made available which record such characteristics, there was only one where the person concerned was over forty and only five incidents where the passenger(s) were exclusively female. While the suburbs concerned where scattered about the metropolitan area, the south east sector is notable for its non-appearance on the report. Three trips either started or ended in Unley. Another was from Magill to Norwood. Two involved Kent Town. But they were the only ones that could be said to take place at all in the south eastern part of the city. The start and finish of the journey were not always recorded, but it can be confidently stated that at least half either began or ended in the city - usually began. As might be expected, the Casino and Hindley Street figured prominently.

2.3.2. Workcover data

Workcover was approached for records about taxi driver claims. Unfortunately taxi drivers are not separately identified, the closest encompassing category being "automobile drivers". From the accident descriptions however, it is possible to identify at least 30 claims that have been made by taxi drivers since 1990. These are claims of drivers who suffered injuries from another person or persons while on the job. Most cases involved lacerationss and bruising of the head, back injuries, broken bones and/or tr auma. In only two cases were weapons reported - both knives. The average cost to Workcover was $16,760- though almost half the claims cost less than $1000. Given that in the case of both the VTD and SATA reports the ratio of injuries to Workcover reports was about six or seven, it could be expected that the actually number of injuries during this period would be more likely to approach 200. However the average number of Workcover claims per year during the period was 5.3, comparable to the seven recorded by SATA in the fifteen months to November 1996. Possibly some injuries reported by SATA were not reported to Workcover and equally others reported to Workcover were not reported by SATA. While trauma did not appear on any of the SATA reports, it was the basis of six of the 32 Workcover claims.

2.3.3. The TSC questionnaire survey

The TSC distributed via the various booking agencies a questionnaire with a reply paid envelope. 74 replies were received.

While this in itself is a substantial number from which conclusions can be drawn, it a disappointing proportion of the 1000 questionnaires distributed. The low response rate was probably affected by confi~sion regarding the dates by which it needed to be returned, but it could also be noted that a similar survey by Philip Stenning in Canada had similar results. It seems taxi drivers as a whole are not willing respondents to surveys, particularly those who are not owner-operators. However those taxi drivers that do respond can be very forthcoming.

A perusal of completed questionnaires also indicates that it would have been preferable to have research staff interview respondants in order to have questionnaires completed.
However at about half an hour per interview, this was deemed beyond the resources of the project.

A copy of the questionnaire is attached as Appendix 2.

Those who responded were generally experienced drivers. Two thirds had worked more than six years as a taxi driver. Less than 10% had worked less than two years. 80% worked more than 50 hours per week. (Typical shifts are 12 hours.) While most work at nights either regularly (12%) or on occasion, 45% described themselves as regular day shift drivers. Night shift workers (many of whom may work only two or three nights a week) are under-represented in the sample. Almost 60% were owner-operators. Only one resp onse was from a female driver. (Women compose 5.6% of the accredited drivers.)

2.3.3.1. Fare evasion

Nearly 90% of respondants reported that they had someone who had reflised to pay or had run off without paying (a "runner") at least once. 80% had experienced this in the last twelve months and indeed most had to suffer this more than once in the last twelve months.

Figure 2.2

It is noteworthy that despite the probable under-representation of night workers, most runners occured from midnight to six in the morning, with only one third occuring during the normal day shift (six in the morning to six at night.) Also 65% of these were described as occuring on Friday or Saturday, but as almost a quarter of all hirings are from 6pm on Friday to 6am on Sunday morning, the over-representation of these days is not quite so dramatic and the small proportion of the weekly shifts would sugges t.

2.3.3.2. Verbal abuse

More than three quarters of respondants reported verbal abuse to the point where they felt uncomfortable or threatened about their safety. Nearly all of those who had experienced this had done so in the last twelve months. For many it was a frequent occurrence.

Table 2.3

The balance between day and night hirings is this case is similar to that of runners, with almost 60% of verbal abuse cases occuring at night. (SATA, reports had two thirds of verbal abuse cases occuring at night.) Respondants were asked what day of the week the last incident happened. Once again, most cases occurred on a Friday or Saturday, although a flirther 20% reported a Thursday. Sunday to Wednesday included accounted for 20% only.

In the overwhelming majority of cases the verbal abuse was not reported to either' the police, the radio company or the PTB, and in all cases where it was reported, the report was to the radio company only. (The questionnaire did not ask if it was reported to SATA) It is interesting to note the reasons for not reporting the incident.

Table 2.4

2.3.3.3. Damage to taxi

64% of those surveyed reported that their taxi had been damaged by passengers of intending passengers. Of those, just over half reported it happening more than once in the past twelve months.

Of the most recent incidents, 70% occurred during the night shift - almost half between midnight and six am - and 80% on Friday or Saturday. (Four of the six SATA cases occured at night.)

Once again, in the bulk of cases (70.5%) the damage was not reported, even though in almost two thirds of the cases the vehicle had to be off the road as a result and damage cost more than $100 to repair. Half the reports made were to the police. (Reporting to the police is often necessary for insurance purposes.) Of those incidents not reported, the belief that no one would do anything lay behind 40% of cases. "It would have taken too longi It would have cost me too much" explained almost all the re st.

2.3.3.4. Physical assault

61% of respondants reported being physically assaulted in the course of their work. The figure reporting at least one assault in the previous twelve months was almost as high - 55.6%. Of that number, 18.5% (i.e. five of the 74 respondants) had been physically assaulted more once in the past twelve months.

Once again, two thirds of the most result assaults occured at night and 70% occured either Thursday, Friday or Saturday. (Eight of the eleven SATA cases occured at night.)

In 80% of cases fists only were used, though on two occasions a knife was the weapon. No guns were reported. In five cases the assault was not accompanied by any verbal abuse, suggesting some premeditation.

Most cases were reported (though the majority was slight) wjth the police being informed in every case. In the 44% of cases which were not reported the reasons given were along the same lines as the reasons for non-reporting of other incidents. In only 9% of cases did the driver think it was not important enough to be reported.

2.3.3.5. Robbery

Seven respondants reported a robbery within the past twelve months; three of these on two occasions. On all but one occasion the robbery occured at night in two of the cases physical assault was used. (SATA reports had four or the six robberies or attempted robberies occuring at night.)

Of the almost three quarters of robberies which were reported, the police were informed in over half

2.3.3.6. Feelings about personal safety

Most respondants felt that their job has become more dangerous in either past ten years or since they started driving. Only 7% thought it had become less dangerous. 56% agreed that the degree of risk made them less willing to take some jobs, though over a third (25 responses) said it had no effect. Almost a half thought that this perception of danger made
it more difficult to provide an appropriate level of service, though half thought it had no effect.

2.3.4. Summary

The numbers of drivers responding to both the SATA call for incident reports and the TSC questionnaire survey are small, but the findings are consistent. They indicated that taxi drivers in Adelaide suffer levels of victimization that most of us would find intolerable.


One can see at times a resigned acceptance to this at least in cases where the driver is not physically injured and particularly in cases of damage to the vehicle. It's "part of the job" and generally goes unreported.

However it is possible to focus too much on those cases involving injury at the expense of fare evasion. It is more serious to be injured than to suffer a runner, but runners are so much more dominant in the statistics that it is not surprising that conversations with drivers about victimization often turns to this issue, rather than their physical safety.

There are probably no surprises for those who know the taxi industry when we look at likely dangers - young men, early hours of the morning, street hail or off a rank serving Adelaide's night spots, to poorer suburbs. And although not specifically asked, alcohol features in many reports.

But lest we create a climate in which such customers are left standing, we should put this in perspective. We have 74 SATA reports of victimisation over fifteen months. If the sample who filled in our questionnaire was a fair representation3, our survey would suggest perhaps four or five thousand cases of victimization over the past twelve months, excluding verbal abuse. Each year the taxi industry provides 1.24 million trips by rank or hail in the hours from six pm to six am.

2.3.5. Safety devices and measures

76.5% avoided certain ranks or areas thought to be dangerous and 54 respondants said they would assess a potential passenger before taking them. This suggests the remaining 3 would not make such an assessment. Only two request call backs by operators before responding. Most respondants said that their company would ask customers to leave their outside lights on.

The apparent numbers taking no safety measures is all the more surprising given that that those who bothered to respond the survey would presumably be more concerned about safety than average.

Respondants were asked which safety devices they had in their car. Figure 2.5 gives the response:

Figure 2.5

(United Yellow is the only radio company in Adelaide that currently uses GPS.)

When asked to assess these devices, all were seen as useful by a good proportion of the respondants, though GPS and the emergency alarm to the depot were clearly the favourites. (See figure 2.6).

If all devices and measures were to be assessed according to the views of the respondants,4 the following ranking applies:
1 GPS 1.53
2 Educating the public 1.54
3 Driver Training 1.75
4 Radio (M13) Alarms 1.77
5 Video Cameras 2.13
6 Duress Alarms 2.14
7 Safety Screens 2.17
8 Better Location of ranks 2.19
9 Driver selection/screening 2.29
10 Call back of telephone bookings 2.32
11 Central locking 2.36
12 Cashless fares 2.53
13 Night safes 2.87


However we suspect that in some cases this order is affected by hostility to some devices, not because of their perceived uselessness, but because of their possible costs. Assessments of safety screens and videos and cashless fares as not at all useflil are examples. Figures 2.6 and 2.7 break down the assessments by category.

Figure 2.6

The request to assess operational measures also revealed favourites, with educating the people the clear leader in this regard. (See figure 2.7) (Focus group discussions revealed that for most drivers, this meant educating the trouble-makers, and that the drivers had a specific responsiblity here. See s. 3.2.1.2.1.) Night safes were unpopular, possibly based on existing experience.

Figure 2.7

2.3.6. Focus groups

In addition to the gathering of statistical data indicating the experiences and views of drivers, a series of focus groups were held to gather qualitative information about these issues. Three sessions were held, with a total of about forty participants. Apart from the facilitators, all those attending were members of the taxi industry as owners, drivers, officials of industry organisations and radio company employees. Practically had taxi driving experience. A full report is included as Appendix 3.

The informal discussions were designed to elicit views about

  • the nature and extent of violence in the industry,
  • the merit of various technological proposals and
  • the most appropropriate strategies for improving safety in the industry.

It was generally agreed that taxi drivers had a difficult and dangerous job. Specifically, they believe that violence and aggression is a significant day-to-day reality for drivers and that alcohol intoxication was a major disposing factor. Participants felt that the industry was not well served by current Occupational Health and Safety Legislation. Much could be done to improve workplace safety and this could best be achieved through an integrated safety initative.

A variety of technological solutions were proposed, including video surveillance, GPS tracking systems, protective screens, alarm systems etc. The general consensus was that technical solutions in and of themselves would be unlikely to solve the problem. There was also a belief that the "Fort Knox" approach may, paradoxically, escalate violence and reduce the quality of working life. Participants noted that several of the proposed technical solutions were based on improved apprehension "after the event" r ather than prevention.

When asked about the most appropriate strategies for improving safety in the industry, participants consistently identified shortcomings in the OH&S legislation and inadequate training and education as the key issues. Most importantly, the participants felt that driver training should be professionalised and expanded to include public relations and conflict resolution skills. Many drivers felt that training should comprise a mixture of pre- and in- service training. In addition, they also felt that the c riminal justice system should assign greater seriousness to crimes against taxi-drivers.

It was felt that while some of the technical solutions have merit, the focus should be on preventative approaches rather than better apprehension of offenders. There was overwhelming support for compulsory central locking as the least expensive and most effective technological solution. (Though compare this with the questionnaire findings, s. 2.3.5.) Video cameras were felt to be a reasonable initiative if they were compulsory, clearly visible and continuously recording using a vehicle-based black box sys tem. It was generally held that the government and the PTB should play a significant role in funding any trial initiatives. They also felt that the actual effectiveness of particular options should be carefully evaluated in cases where significant costs would be imposed on owners.

Further findings from the focus groups are included throughout this report.

2.4. The context in which safety measures are being discussed

A true understanding of the nature of the issue and a realistic appreciation of the likely effectiveness of various options to improve taxi driver safety needs an appreciation of the broader context in which taxi drivers operate. Drivers in the focus groups consistently referred to the broader "political" problem caused by the structure of the industry.

Like many taxi industries, Adelaide's industry structure is dominated by the small operator. Of the 1551 accredited owners or lessees, only 250 operate more than one vehicle. Radio companies do not operate cabs. They compete amongst each other to attract taxis to their networks. This structure of the industry, with many small taxi operators, makes it difficult for the industry to talk with a single voice, for consensual agreements to be made. Without consensus, implementation of agreements is difficult . The taxi licence owner will either operate the cab him or herself or will lease the licence to someone else. (There are 523 lessee operators in Adelaide.) A taxi operator will often drive for some of the week, but will also rely on other drivers to "keep the cab on the road". These will generally be paid on a commission basis, the driver taking 50% of the metered revenue.

As we shall discuss later, the acceptance of safety measures by drivers depends on their perception of trade-offs between greater security on the one hand and greater inconvenience, cost and ability to attract customers on the other. Just how important such considerations are - in other words, how much risk a driver is prepared to take - will depend on the broader social and economic environment in which he or she works. There are a number of features of this environment which predispose a driver to takin g risk and inhibit measures to reduce this risk.

Taxi driving is characterised by casual employment, a high turn over and physical isolation when providing the service. If Dandenong is experience any guide, the least experienced are most likely to work nights. Lack of experience and isolation are frequently cited as factors leading to vulnerability.

Despite their perceived status as "protected monopolies", taxi drivers are in a very competitive position; with each other, with the private car and with hire cars. Of course competition is a normal feature of life, but taxi operations are disadvantaged in their competition with hire cars and the private car by the capital costs of licences, which in turn are increased by the ability to lease the licence. The taxi industry has been able to survive in this regime, but only by relying on drivers willing to work for an average wage of less than eight dollars an hour before tax.

The situation in certainly not an Adelaide-only phenomenon. High unemployment and a long term trend towards personal car ownership has resulted in a demand/supply imbalance which has depressed driver's wages in many parts of the world. Stenning notes the implications following his study of three Canadian cities (Stenning, 1996, pp. 72-73).

  1. It inhibits efforts to "professionalize" the occupation, improving its image, training and so on. It will be hard to attract recruits with a professional motivation. (A member of our focus groups referred to the "sleazebag" image of the industry.) Commitments to loyalty between employers and employees will not pay off. The poor image will extend to police attitudes, discouraging assistance from that quarter. Employee industrial and professional organisation will be difficult if not impossible to ma intain and the employee voice will be hard to hear in policy circles.

  2. It encourages risk-taking, which in this context includes taking dangerous-looking passengers or operating in dangerous areas, despite fears for safety that they engender.

  3. It discourages the adoption of protective measures. They will seem "too expensive" on the part of the owners or "bad for business" for the drivers.

One may add other, more anecdotal, arguments. The higher turnover that stems from this produces an inexperienced workforce which would be more vulnerable to danger and less willing to help each other out of danger.

Some of the options to be discussed later are costly and unless provided for otherwise, the cost would be paid by the taxi owners. The focus groups suggested that the tight margins meant that they could not afford meeting Workcover payments. Such tight margins would also make payment for technical options more difficult. The figures provided for the drivers' remuneration have come from the Baseline study. While there are no equivalent indicators of the ownersU financial situation, some reasonable deduct ions can be made and these will be discussed further in the conclusions and recommendations. However in any situation where there is an imbalance of supply and demand there is an opportunity for costs to be passed on by those in an advantageous position. If for some reason there are more people wanting taxi driver jobs than there are jobs available, the costs of safety measures will eventually be paid in terms of worse returns for the driver.

2.4.1. Occupational health

South Australia now tries to legislatively protect it workers from occupational hazards. The Occupational Health Act imposes obligations on drivers to ensure a safe working place for their employees. The Workers Compensation Act, through its instrument Workcover, provides a system of compensation for employees which in turn is designed to encourage employers to reduce risks at work.

Adelaide's taxi drivers are covered by the Workers Compensation Act as long as they are not either owners or lessees. The regulations of the legislation were specifically extended to cover drivers.

The extent of the coverage of the Occupational Health Act is more doubtful, and its interpretation is affected by court cases dealing with the apparently perennial difficulty of legally defining an employee. (One such case is before the Federal Court at the time of writing.)

The idea of specifically extending the application of the Occupational Health Act to cover taxi drivers is likely to be fiercely opposed by employer organisations, who demonstrated a keen desire to keep the definition of employee relatively narrow when the legislation was passed in 1986. (The Workers Compensation Act extensions pre-dated the passage of the Occupational Health Act.)

In any case it appears there are more profound, structural impediments to the use of legislation to encourage driver safety. As we have noted, the number of drivers reporting incidents to Workcover is surprisingly small, despite their right to do so. The reason seems to be related to the nature of the workplace, the personal relationship with the RemployerS and ignorance of the legal situation. Unlike most other industries, there are no inspectors or advocates working to ensure that legal entitlements are received.

For their part, operators who engage drivers on the basis of shared takings do not see themselves as employers and for most industrial purposes they are not. Nevertheless unless they have a carefully specified leasing arrangement with the driver of the taxi, the taxi owner is liable to pay Workcover premiums. Fines for non-payment once a claim is made are Rquite frequentS. Many, particularly those who have bought the plate on borrowed money or who are leasing the plate, operate on very tight margins. The Workcover premium can be seen as a corner they can cut. Subsequent fines or damages claims may go uncollected as they would send the operator into bankruptcy.

Options for improving taxi driver safety

3.1. Introduction

There are many possible options for improving taxi driver safety. This section will discuss those options most popular in discussions of driver safety, as well as other options which appear to the authors of this report as worthy of consideration.

The structuring of such a discussion is difficult. Both the focus group discussions and the questionnaire survey distinguished between technology-based options and "non-technological" options (that is, those using educational, regulatory or managerial approaches). We have used this basic division, though in fact many "soft" options rely on physical technology.

Within this basic division we have adopted a categorization used by John Stone in a speech to the Taxi Driver Security Conference held in Montreal on December 6, 1996.(Stone, 1996) Stone divided such options into three categories: pro-active, preventative and reactive. Pro-active measures are designed to remove the motive or opportunity for driver victimization. Preventative measures will deter the action or limit the potential for injury to the driver. Reactive measures are designed to either help the driver once an incident begins, or to identify the perpetrator. In general the managerial approaches tend to be pro-active, the educational approaches preventative and the technological approaches tend to be more reactive.

Other things being equal, pro-active measures are to be preferred to preventative measures, which in turn are preferable to reactive. But of course other things are not equal; it also depends on the effectiveness of measures, the costs and benefits, including side benefits or costs.

This categorisation also has problems: some options fit in more than one category (hence the creation of an RotherS category), the boundary between pro-active and preventative is sometimes obscure, and successful reactive measures should have a long term effect of deterring those inclined to a similar offence and so also be pro-active.

The following table summarizes where we see the options to be discussed within this categorization.

              
 Non-technological                          
Technological

Pro-active      Removing cash from the cab               
Public education

Preventative    Training                                 
  Protective Screens                Requiring pre-payment       
               Gutter Side-Lights                Rank
supervision                Dispatcher call backs               
Banning window advertising

Reactive        Rewards                                  
  Radio alarms                                                  
         Duress alarms                                          
                 In-vehicle video surveillance                  
                                         Vehicle tracking
systems                                                         
  Internal boot relase

Other           Improving relations with police          
  Central locking                Removal of driver seat-belt
requirements    Electric shocks                Increasing fines
for fare evasion 

3.2. Non-technological options

3.2.1. Pro-active measures

3.2.1.1. Removing cash from the cab

Pro-active measures are those which remove the motivation to commit a crime. We see this approach being taken when we see signs saying "limited cash held on these premises". Terry Smythe, for many years the general manager of Manitoba Taxicab Board, stresses the importance of robbery as a motivator of crime against taxi drivers. "If the industry really wants to protect its drivers" he argues, "the single most decisive action it can take is to migrate to the cashless taxi..." (His response to a request fo r advice from the Mayor London, Ontario, on improving taxi driver safety is included as Appendix 4.) Given Rathbone's study of 606 homicides in North America found the motive usually to be robbery, this is not surprising. (Rathbone, 1994)

There are various methods by which the robbery motive can removed. That with most appeal because of improving technology is the use of non-cash means of payment. Long established voucher-based systems are being joined by electronic means of payment to remove the amount of cash being carried. These include long standing card-based credit systems (Bankcard etc.) as well as the new Fareway system established by Cabcharge. The Fareway system now provides EFTPOS facilities which should reduce the need for dr ivers to carry any more than required cash for a float. It can also be connected to a Global Positioning System, recording when and where the trip occured on charge account statements.

Another non-cash form of payment just over the horizon is the smart card - normally a stored value card issued by particular service providers or by banks, for general retail.

The placement of cash safes within the car is another means of reducing the incentive to rob the driver. If necessary these could be made inaccessible to the driver as well, preventing the driver being forced to open it. The widely publicised installation of cash safes inside taxicabs has led to reduced incidents of robberies in US cities. (Easteal and Wilson, 1991). A variation of this is the location of drop-boxes scattered about the city to enable drivers to deposit cash. Of course ATMs now fulfil t his function.

3.2.1.1.1. Applicability to Adelaide

The "cashless society" is almost a cliché. Taxis are part of this. Almost all of Adelaide's taxis take credit cards. Most are part of the Cabcharge network, so shall shortly be part of the Fareway system, which promises to be adaptable to smartcards when they are introduced. All of this suggests a promising reduction in the motivation for driver robbery and consequently assault.

However we would suggest the promise should not be overstated, for several reasons:

  • Despite the technology, we are probably not on the verge of the cashless taxi. The 10% charge imposed by Cabcharge for the Fareway system will make it less attractive to the non-business market. Despite the widespread use of electronic payment as a whole, the existence of vouchers systems for almost every taxi and the acceptance of credit cards by almost all taxis, cash is still the dominant means of payment.. Three quarters of Adelaide's fare revenue is still in cash. No doubt the figure is higher at night. For many customers, cards and cabcharge type arrangements will be considered inappropriate for short distance and infrequent taxi journeys. While smart cards may make major inroads into this, there is still some way to go before cash is removed from the taxi, especially at night, when danger is highest.

  • The biggest barrier to the trend toward electronic payment is probably the driver. The Smythe quote provided above goes on to say "...and accept the companion audit trail that is an integral part of such technology." Of course implicit in this statement is the nub of the problem - industry opposition to any moves which would make their transactions easier to audit. Many drivers would rather accept the increased vulnerability that this entails. We note cashless fares ranked twelth of the thirteen o ptions as far as our questionnaire respondants were concerned. (See s. 2.3.5.) We suspect this ranking may reflect opposition to the negative effects as much as it does a an belief as to its ineffectiveness.

    (Industry opposition may be weakened by the latest effort by the Australian Taxation Office to recover revenue from the industry, using the tactic of deeming revenue at a particular rate. If, as is claimed by many in the industry, the deemed rate (69c a kilometre) is higher than what is earned in reality5, drivers will lose that incentive to hide revenue and in fact have some incentive to support full and correct auditing.)

  • Robbery is not such as strong feature of taxi drivers' incidents as it appears to be in North America. Of the 74 reports to SATA discussed in s. 2.3.1, there were five cases of robbery. Of the eleven cases of physical assault, three also involved robbery, the other eight did not. The sample numbers are small, but we note similar proportions in Victoria.

  • For the foreseeable future there will be a need to have cash for change and so at least some motivation for robbery. As Keatsdale identified in Sydney, drivers are often robbed for small amounts of money.(Keatsdale Pty. Ltd., 1995) The price of a junkie's "fix" is as low as $30 and it is unlikely that a driver would carry much less than this on his or her person even with a secure cash box on board. The trade would not wish to dissuade casual travellers by moving to a completely cashless system.

Developments in this area will largely go on regardless of government action. We do not recommend that cash safes or drop boxes be compulsory, as we suspect that they would not be well used. If there was a demand for them, presumably they would be more in use today. The Baseline study found the average fare revenue at the end of a shift to be about $160. Perhaps it is not enough to justify the use of safes or drop boxes. Of course the revenue will be higher during the busier night times periods, but it is at such times that drivers may think they are too busy to use these.

However we would encourage radio companies to organise facilities to minimize the amount of cash carried in the cab, as a service to their customers. They could well be a selling point for the companies in the attraction of taxis to the fleet.

3.2.1.2. Public education

Focus group discussions as well as wider research have impressed on us the taxi drivers' perception that they suffer from a poor public image and a lack of concern on the part of the broader community. This is manifested in the attitudes of some (admittedly a minority) of customers, but also in police and judicial attitudes.

From time to time regulatory authorities have embarked on public education schemes to improve driver security. The PTB's television advertisements urging customers who book cabs at night to put their porch light on are a case in point. Western Australia produces car stickers encouraging prepayment ("Prepayment - it's only fair") as well as posters, advertisments in youth magazines and mailouts to businesses.

3.2.1.2.1. Applicability to Adelaide

The focus groups supported the need for a better educated public. On what to do about this, however, there is less agreement. The focus groups revealed opposing views as to whether public education efforts should be targeted to specific people or broadcast to the wider community. But there was agreement that the choice of strategy would probably be determined by the resources available.

However it was recognized that perhaps the most important aspect of public education would be in the hands of the drivers; that they should "educate" the small minority who indulge in unacceptable behaviour. Drivers should refuse to take aggressive or drunk people, insist on clear, precise destinations, refuse to take passengers without prepayment, or accept large denomination notes, and so on. Clearly, though, these all have implications for the service provided to the public and judgement is needed.

As far as the issue of broader public education is concerned, we do not profess marketing expertise, but given the relatively small proportion of the population who use a taxi once or more a month (about 15%) a more targeted campaign seems appropriate. For example signs could be produced for cabs with a safety theme. One possibility is a decal stating that limited cash is held in the cab, though this of course may put ideas in the minds of passengers.

Clearly production of materials should be in collaboration with other states to save costs. The media interest in the taxi industry is strong given the proportion of urban trips which are by taxi. This could be exploited to educate the public, though it would need to be done in a positive manner. The occupation should not be perceived as more dangerous than it really is. Public education, if designed jointly with drivers, would be an excellent means of demonstrating concern for drivers and so improving morale.

3.2.2. Preventative measures

3.2.2.1. Training

Better training of drivers to avoid dangerous situations is perhaps the most popular non-technological approach to improving safety. The common comment has it that "the driver's best defensive weapon is his mouth".

One driver in the focus group discussions commented:

"Most people think that all you need to know is where the streets are! This is the trivial aspect of driving. You need to develop a lot of other skills before you can make it. You need to have a sixth sense about the customers. You need to know who not to pick up (and when). Most of all you need to know how to handle drunks."

It widely is held that inexperienced drivers are at more risk and that training can overcome some of the disadvantages of inexperience. The view expressed in the focus groups reported on earlier was that those who "attracted" incidents were younger, less experienced and less skilled in conflict resolution. (See Appendix 3.) They had yet to learn the value of a conciliatory manner and how to deal with provocation.

The latest murder of a taxi driver in Australia was of a Vietnamese driver who had been on the job for only two weeks and who had been heard arguing in the cab shortly before the murder. It was also stated by his family that he would be likely to react in a hostile manner to a racial slur. To many this incident helps confirm the belief that experience, ability to communicate and conflict resolution skills are all good for improving a driver's safety. On the other hand Stenning found no evidence in his s urvey that more experienced drivers or "white" drivers suffered any less vitimisation that non-white or inexperienced drivers. (Stenning, 1995, p. 46)

Gordon Barton, responsible for training at Excel Resources & Training, Manitoba, argues that it is not only new drivers who need training:

"The REAL ANSWER is in driver education which must be mandatory and ongoing. The drivers themselves are their own worst enemies in that they become complacent and say "it will never happen to me", or "I can look after myself". (personal communication, 15 November 1996)

Queensland has recently moved in this direction and now requires drivers to take a refresher course every five years, when their accreditation is due.

The view that training should be ongoing was supported by drivers who responded to Philip StenningUs survey. (Stenning, 1996, p. 55) Three quarters felt that all drivers should receive training, not just new drivers. Common themes of driver attitudes to training in Stenning's survey were:

  • it was not enough to try to train drivers in the classroom

  • active taxi drivers (rather than police or regulators) should be used as trainers - prefereably drivers who had themselves experienced victimization. (Stenning, 1996, p. 55)

The other advantage of higher levels of training would be an improvement in the general quality of drivers itself. Some argue that this would improve safety - that factors such as a driver's personal appearance, demeanor and hygiene are related to levels of victimization. ((Workman and Johnson, 1989);(Barton, 1995), cited Stenning, 1996, p. 22)

Of course it cannot be expected that specific information conveyed at the training course will all be retained by the driver. Some supplementation of this through other means could therefore be worthwhile. For example, Western Australia is currently producing a handbook on driver safety.

3.2.2.1.1 Applicability to Adelaide

South Australia's taxi driver accreditation standards requires all new drivers to undergo training. One half of a day is devoted to safety in the current module. In the recent overhaul of taxi driver safety the safety module was left largely untouched. There is no requirement for on-going training. Our overview of the focus group discussions highlighted the value discussants placed on training. However the facilitator of the Adelaide focus groups has reported that the idea of better training "was not strongly endorsed by the owners" and there was some argument that owners had a vested interest in keeping the supply of drivers high and therefore training standards low. (See Appendix 3, "Driver education".) Having said that, SATA, which represents taxi owners has called for compulsory refresher train ing when accreditation becomes due. SATA's position paper on taxi driver safety argues that the training module should be expanded to cover attitudinal testing, controlling customer aggression and calming procedures.(South Australian Taxi Association, 1996, p. 2)

In assessing the value of safety training we must take note of that Stenning found no evidence that more experienced drivers suffered less victimization than less experienced. However it may be that this was a result of his study, like ours, being skewed to the more experienced as they tend to be more willing to contribute and to report incidents. Also almost a half of his respondants who had some formal driver safety training thought that this component of the course was not adequate. (Unfortunately the number of respondants to our questionnaire survey was such that, when broken down by length of experience, the sample was too small to provide reliable information.)

The collateral advantages of better safety training should not be ignored. Measures mentioned above for radio despatchers would also have the effect of reducing the number of "no shows" - that is, cases where the taxi arrives to find no one wanting a cab. An important feature of driver training should be inculcating the ability to "read the passenger" to observe them carefully. Such a skill will also make the driver better able to serve the customer by being attentive to the customers' needs. More trai ning by itself can help to create a more professional industry.

The authors accept the arguments that higher standards of training will also result in better drivers if only by weeding out those who shouldn't be there because of their aggresive nature.

Clearly an important safety measure taken by drivers is simply the decision whether to accept a fare. Training can help identify danger signs. But it can also help drivers negotiate tricky problems of avoiding unfair discrimination when doing so.

It is not the place here to discuss all the appropriate features of driver safety training. In any case the authors do not profess expertise in this area. A copy of Mr Barton's training module is attached as Appendix 6. Its use as a basis for a review of taxi driver safety training would considerable increase the effort devoted to this area, though we would support an even wider approach to driver safety, as espoused by the South Australian Taxi Association.

One suggestion that arose from the focus groups was the establishment of a mentoring program to enhance on the job driver education. Given the critique of classroom based training mentioned by in the Stenning survey, this suggestion is worthy of further attention.

The Taxi Industry Advisory Panel should also monitor developments in other states, such as WA's driver handbook mentioned above. Some of this material could be used here or perhaps collaboratively produced, though we note the view of one focus group member who felt written material would be unlikely to be read by most drivers.

Of course all who can improve the safety of the industry should be encouraged to do so. Drivers frequently express the view that they are dependent on those in the radio room for safety and so radio operators also need safety training. For example radio despatchers can minimize threatening situations by taking a few simple measures such as asking for details about the location, telling them to leave their light on, taking their number, asking them to ring back if no cab has arrived in x minutes and so on. Perhaps the only measure that would have saved Andrew Mordowicz would have been the dispatchers requiring caller identification and then calling back the number to check the bona fides - the numbers of bookings in the early hours of the morning are few enough to make this feasible.

Cab owners could be better trained so that they could recognize the value of establishing good relations with drivers, of taking time to ensure that the driver is fully aware of appropriate practices, the tricks of the trade and so on. They should also be aware of any legal responsibilities they may have.

Training should be designed by the industry rather than the government. However the regulators should, in consultation with the industry, set the minimum required training standards.

3.2.2.2. Prepayment of fares

Both the focus groups and the questionnaire respondants raised the issue of fare pre-payment. When asked to give his suggestions on how to improve driver safety, one made respondant made his views clear: "Cash on the dash!!!"

We have to hand over payment before receiving most goods and services, including public transport. But - as in most cases where the exact charge cannot be determined beforehand - we do not do so in the case of taxis. For taxis this is a particular problem because there is no documentation of the transaction completed beforehand and because many of the passengers have little money. (Users of taxis tend to congregate at either end of the income spectrum.)

This is a widespread problem around the world, yet little evidence has been uncovered as to attempts to deal with it. Western Australia's public education campaign has been mentioned. Other means tend to be regulatory, permitting the driver to ask for pre-payment in certain circumstances. But the problem remains.

3.2.2.2.1. Applicability in Adelaide

Given the significance of fare evasion as a proportion taxi victimization revealed in s. 2.3.1 and s. 2.3.3.1, this is understandable. Perusal of incident reports reveal that refusal to pay a fare is often the cause of violent incidents. In half of the cases in which the driver was assaulted by a passenger fare evasion was also involved.

The regulations of the Passenger Transport Act already allow the driver to require the estimated fare to be paid as a "deposit" in advance in circumstances in which the "driver believes the fare will not be paid". (Regulation 57 (4) (6)) The legal ability is there already. The problems are more social in nature, with the danger that customers would take offence.

The wording of the regulation could be improved to remove reference to the circumstances. This could help the eventual public acceptance of pre-payment.

Prepayment could be made easier by the product of a fare guide showing the expected fare from suburb to suburb. This would preferably be produced by the Passenger Transport Board, to provide an official imprimatur to the idea of pre-payment. Another small measure which would help would be the installation of a clip on the dash itself designed for holding the fare, perhaps backed with a slogan extolling pre-payment.

3.2.2.3. Supervision of taxi ranks

One means to improve driver safety is to screen and control passengers before they enter the cab by deploying police or security guards to patrol ranks at dangerous times or locations. Both the Victorian and the Western Australian governments employ security officers at selected ranks - particularly nightclubs late at night. The same occurs in Brisbane, where customers may be required to pay the approximate fare before being allowed into the cab. The staff concerned are trained in estimating fares, custo mers needs, types of taxi services as well as crowd control.

Victoria also uses video cameras on some stands. Taxi drivers are encouraged not to respond to street hails in the Melbourne's nightclub area so that intending passengers would normally only expect to pick up a cab at this supervised rank. In this way, there is some control of the passengers before they enter the cab.

Security officers on the rank can prevent aggressive inebriates from travelling and check to see passengers have fares, as well as organise multiple hiring at times of high demand.

Easteal and Wilson suggest that long waits at taxi ranks exacerbate tempers(Easteal and Wilson, 1991, p. 43). The Victorian experience was that waiting times increased when particular ranks gained the reputation of being dangerous because drivers began avoiding them. (Victoria, 1996, p. 16) One answer, according to Easteal and Wilson is that busy ranks where there is a lot of waiting should have seats, overhead cover, lighting and direct phone contact with dispatchers. Swanton and Scandia also suggest th e deployment of several ranks in the vicinity, to avoid the concentration of intoxicated passengers at a single rank. (cited,(Easteal and Wilson, 1991, p. 43) This however would make less economic the employment of security officials. They suggest that the hotel/nightclub trade in the area could be asked to contribute to some of the cost.(Swanton and Scandia, 1990)

3.2.2.3.1. Applicability in Adelaide

The Baseline study has found very little waiting at Adelaide's ranks though unfortunately that which does occur is at times and places where alcohol is also an important component of the atmosphere - early mornings, outside pubs and discos. The queues at these ranks can be quite long, but they are quickly moving, rendering seats less useful. However if the idea of creating "safe" ranks was adopted these could also be subject to the sort of infrastructure improvements recommended by Esteal and Wilson.

Clearly rank supervision involves costs. For the busier ranks, the security costs might only amount to a small proportion of the total revenue collected, but if the scheme were extended to other ranks in problem areas, the cost could be significant. A perusal of incident forms however, indicated a high concentration of incidents stemming from pick-ups in the Hindley Street area, including the Casino. A campaign to encourage drivers to pick up only from designated, supervised ranks would channel demand th rough these ranks, making the idea of using rank supervisors more cost-effective.

3.2.2.4. A ban on window advertising

One final preventative measures would be to ensure a clear view inside the cab by banning things such as advertising or darkened windows which might obscure vision. The thinking is along the same lines as that applying to shops such as convenience stores, where security experts always recommend bright lighting. In this case the passenger is also better protected from violence or unwanted advances from taxi drivers.

Several cities in the United States and Canada have banned advertising in rear windows on the grounds that they endanger either the taxi driver or the passenger by obscuring the view from outside6. No state in Australia bans window ads on safety grounds, though they are being phased out in Victoria because the government thinks they detract from the taxi's image.

3.2.2.4.1. Applicability to Adelaide

The bans in North America have occured in a context in which taxi driving is perceived as more dangerous than it appears to be in Adelaide. Such a regulation would no doubt be controversial. It should not be proceeded with without wide consultation.

3.2.3. Reactive measures

3.2.3.1. Rewards

The provision of a reward for information is a time-honoured means of obtaining catching criminals. As such it is a classic reactive approach. Having said that, it can be effective. The murderers of Peter Coe (killed by two boys in Melbourne, 5 February 1995) were uncovered by an aquaintance who heard that a $20,000 reward was available, comprising $10,000 offered by Coe's radio company and $10,000 offered by the Victorian Taxi Association.

3.2.3.1.1. Applicability to Adelaide

Rewards can work at times, and have the collateral advantage of improving morale amongst drivers. They demonstrate that the industry and the broader society care about them and should be considered in any case of serious crime.

3.2.4. Other non-technological measures

3.2.4.1. Improving relations with police

As might be expected, relations between taxi drivers and police was a feature of the focus group discussions. Taxi drivers typically feel that they receive little support from the police, and in particular in dealing with the problem of fare evasion, which is likely to be regarded as a civil rather than a criminal matter and in any case too trivial to warrant the attention of the police.

This report has demonstrated the way in which policy making is hampered by a lack of evidence. The prime reason given for not reporting offences is that the police will not take them seriously. The more serious offences are reported, especially if some sort of compensation is involved. Therefore police records should be a good source of information. Unfortunately police records do not distinguish cab offences. In Western Australia the transport ministry is currently negotiating with the police about the establishment of a data base of taxi related incidents.

Following a murder of a taxi driver in Montreal the authorities instituted a special bureau to institute taxi driver safety initiatives, which include police. One of the bureau's programs was Partners in Prevention: spot police inspections of taxis and passengers. John Stone claims that this was an important feature in reduction of annual armed robberies by 60% in that city from 1990 to 1995.

We also note the New York police have embarked on a minimum tolerance strategy in the belief that by demonstrating to young offenders that even minor offences are not acceptable they will be deterred from going on to worse offences. This will obviously be expensive in the short term, though the NYPD believe that it will be cost effective in the long term.

3.2.4.1.1. Applicability to Adelaide

Improving relations between the industry and police has almost a motherhood ring to it. Clearly both sides would benefit from a closer, more harmonious relationship between taxis and police. Drivers would benefit from a more supportive relationship from police, but perhaps the police would benefit even more if drivers were willing to report the criminal and other suspicious activity they see.

However we are hesitant to recommend more efforts to improve relations as there are already such measures in place. A Taxi Watch program was established by the taxi industry and the police in 1992. There is already police representation on the industry's Taxi Driver Safety Committee.

A model for further action could be the cooperative action taken by the police and the STA/TransAdelaide to deal with safety on public transport. That cooperation has created the Transit Police, which could possibly be used in any Partners in Prevention style of strategy.

Driver cooperation with police could be encouraged by having the police honour taxi drivers who assist with an arrest. At the very least it should be possible to adopt "taxi" as a keyword in existing reports. This step will not mean that all incidents worth recording are recorded, but it will gives us a reliable source of data about the more serious incidents. The South Australian Taxi Association's position paper on taxi driver safety argued that the "industry's morale would be considerably improved if it was advised on the apprehension of offenders and their subsequent penalty through the courts". This would be much ea sier if the crime data bases used "taxi" as a keyword.

3.2.4.2. Removal of seat belt requirements for drivers

One safety measure frequently called for by individual drivers is the removal of the requirement that they wear seat belts. The most graphic argument for this is that the belt itself can be used as a weapon to strangle the driver by an assailant from behind. It is also argued that the belt will inhibit the driver's mobility in dealing with victimization.

New South Wales does not require taxi drivers to wear a belt, though this may change once safety screens are made compulsory. All other states do. Interestingly, in Canada where drivers do not have to wear belts, though the Fox-Decent report on a taxi driver safety in that country, recommended that the wearing of belts be made compulsory. (Stenning, 1995, p. 25) However this was on the assumption that another recommendation of theirs' - compulsory screens - would be implemented.

3.2.4.2.1. Applicability in Adelaide

The argument against allowing drivers not to wear belts is that the increased danger posed to the driver in the case of an accident is greater than the increased danger from assault in wearing them. Also the belt could still be used as a weapon, even if not worn (though not as easily.) Police would prefer that no exceptions to the rule are made.

Unfortunately we have no record of motor vehicle accidents involving taxis. Of our eleven cases of assault recorded by SATA over fourteen months only once was an assailant sitting in the back. We do not have the evidence to support a call for drivers to be exempted from wearing seatbelts.

3.2.4.3. Increasing fines for fare evasion

As a result of a campaign in Canada, the maximum fine for Rfare-jumpingS was raised from $20 to $250, with the fine for a second offence to $500. This was followed by a directive to the police setting out new fines and procedures for enforcement. (Stenning, 1995, p. 28)

A survey of other Australian states has found little action in this regard.

3.2.4.3.1. Applicability in Adelaide

This was an issue raised in the focus groups, with the fine being described as a "slap on the hand" and a call being made for "on the spot" fines.

By comparison with other cities, Adelaides fine of $500 is quite high. However it is anomalous that the maximum fee for fare evasion on a taxi is lower than that on a bus, where the fares are usually far lower. Also policing of bus fare evasion is helped by the existence of an expiation fee. Fines and fees for taxi fare evasion should be reviewed to provide consistency.

3.3. Technological options

3.3.1. Pro-active measures

No technological measures removing the motivation to victimize drivers have been identified, though it should be noted that a number of the "cashless cab" initiatives rely on technological developments. We have not discussed them at this point, principally because their introduction would be for primarily be for reasons other than driver safety.

3.3.2. Preventative measures

3.3.2.1. Protective Screens

Protective screens, or shields, physically separate the driver from the passengers. Although a protective screen behind the driver provides the most effective physical barrier between the driver and passengers, views on the fitting of screens are strongly polarised.

Advocating the use of screens, the New York Police Department described them as "the single most effective deterrent to taxi robberies". In Boston, 10 cab drivers were murdered on the job between 1967 and 1969 leading to a decision to make shields mandatory. In the twenty years following the compulsory fitting of shields, no driver has been the victim of a homicide as a result of an assault from inside the vehicle(Barton, 1991).

Screens were called for by Victorian Supreme Court judge in sentencing killers of Peter Coe.(Victoria, 1996, p. 13). The NSW government has announced that screens will be compulsory in that state's taxis, though the original date of implementation - 1 July this year - has recently been put off.

However screens remain highly controversial. The financial cost is one thing - generally between $600 and $1100, depending on how strong it is and whether it encloses the driver or merely covers the back. But more than this is the feeling among many drivers that it is inconvenient and uncomfortable for them and is disliked by the passengers. Criticisms include that it has an adverse effect on air flow through the vehicle and inhibits driver/customer communication. Concerns are also expressed about the s afety of passengers in the event of a collision.

Stone et al show that screens/shields are considered more effective by taxi drivers who had experienced assaults than by those who had not.(Stone, et al., 1995) Their report also discusses US experience with screens in the early seventies during which period there was no evidence of reduced incidences of shooting taxi drivers but considerable evidence of increased injury risk to passengers in the event of a collision.

The lesson of Manitoba is salutary. That province produced the most comprehensive study of shields yet produced. (Manitoba Taxi Safety Shields Task Force, 1990) The study concluded that screens should be compulsory and a regulation specifying the features of approved shields was enacted. However to date no shields have been put forward for approval. A second, briefer report into the issue concluded that shields were not a realistic option. (Stenning, 1995, pp. 26-7)

In Victoria, most cabs in Dandenong were recently fitted with screens. Haines and Cahill undertook a study of taxi drivers in Dandenong in which they addressed, among other matters:

  • (a) the extent of support for screens; and

  • (b) whether the screen caused injuries in motor vehicle accidents.

The survey results suggest that around 60% of drivers believe that screens would make no difference in the event of a physical assault. Some 80% of drivers felt that screens would make no difference to the amount of fare evasion. Of those drivers who had been involved in a motor vehicle accident with a screen fitted, only 2% said that the screen caused an injury. 90% of drivers working with a screen fitted, and 55% of those working without a screen, expressed support for the use of screens. Most importa ntly, the drivers of cabs equipped with screens felt safer, and the number of attacks on these drivers had decreased.

However, an estimated 30% of those who had had screens fitted had decided to remove them, notwithstanding their security benefits.(Haines and Cahill, 1996) Dandenong drivers split right down the middle over compulsory fitting of screens, with 50% supporting compulsory screens and 50% opposed.(Victoria, 1996, p. 13)

Elsewhere in Australia, drivers' representatives appear to strongly support the provision of screens while owners' representatives are opposed. But the division is not "clear cut" with some drivers strongly opposed to the fitting of screens.7

Some of the discussion regarding the benefits and disbenefits of screens reflect cultural differences between Australia and other countries. In Australia it is the practice, particularly for males, to occupy the front passenger seat next to the driver. For the shield to be effective, passengers would be required to occupy the rear seat, introducing a significant barrier to the "mateship" reflected in the Australian culture.(James, 1993)

Because the benefits to driver security cannot easily be compared with the increased risk to passengers and the intangible disbenefit of the loss of communication between driver and passenger(s), the Victorian government feels that more conclusive evidence of the benefits needs to be established before making the fitting of screens compulsory.(Victoria, 1995) ,(Victoria, 1996) However two screens have been approved for installation by the Victorian Taxi Directorate, one of which is a side screen as well.

Queensland provides that if a driver wants a screen the operator is obliged to install this. As a result screens are quite common, though by not means are that in the majority of cabs.

The issue with screens appears to be that they do significantly enhance driver security while in the vehicle, but at the expense of driver and passenger comfort.

3.3.2.1.1. Applicability in South Australia

Properly fitted enclosing screens offer the highest level of protection against assault to the driver of a standard sedan type taxi - while the driver stays in the vehicle. However in the standard Australian sedan vehicle used for most taxi work, the screen would be a considerable physical intrusion into the passenger compartment. Many drivers and passengers would resent the presence of a physical barrier separating them and this could have a negative impact on the demand for taxi travel. The question is whether the costs are worth the benefit.

One Adelaide taxi driver who was the victim of a particularly vicious attack now drives with a screen fitted. The screen protects him from attack from behind, but only partially from assaults from the front passenger seat. He says he would not work without the screen and did not feel that the screen significantly affected the driver/passenger relationship.

Although respondents to our questionnaire survey generally felt that protective screens would be useful in increasing taxi driver security, at least five other measures were considered to be more useful. As discussed elsewhere in this report, these findings must be interpreted cautiously because the sample was skewed unrepresentatively towards the more experienced and day shift drivers but on the other hand, being a voluntary survey, it was also more likely to be skewed toward those who had suffered an att ack.

Over half of these drivers had been physically assaulted in the last year. If their experience were typical then drivers on average would be physically assaulted once every 54 weeks. But on the other hand SATA had only eleven reports of assault over ten months and so we believe the rate of assault to generally be much less. As we noted in s. 2.3 we can tell little of the extent of violence from these surveys. What is interesting, however is the point noted earlier - only one of the eleven recorded case s involved an assailant who sat in the back seat.

Little protection is offered against assault outside the vehicle or against the other mischievous acts against taxi drivers, leaving the cab without paying the fare, verbal abuse and damage to the vehicle. In fact screens could well exacerbate the problem of runners, though we note that 80% of the Dandenong drivers surveyed thought it would have no effect either way.

This is a highly controversial area about which the industry is clearly divided. While the government should specify the operational characteristics of safety screens, it should not attempt to impose them until there was a clear consensus industry that they are worthwhile. We should beware of adopting an approach developed to meet different circumstances from our own. For example, in justifying screens, Stone comments, "Since virtually all driver assailants use guns and knives, it makes sense to strongly consider shields to separate drivers and passengers." (Stone, 1996) Our incident forms in fact found very little use of weapons - two cases in which the driver was threatened with a knife, once by a very drunk passenger.

The possibility of compulsory screens may emerge in the longer run if authorities ever decided to specify particular sorts of vehicles as taxis, both to ensure wheelchair accessibilty and to provide taxis with an identifiable image, separate from those of hire cars.

3.3.2.2. Gutter side lights

Flood lights illuminating the side of the road can be seen as a safety measure by given the driver a good opportunity to see the nature of the passengers and other factors which may impinge on his safety. They have a side benefit of providing light for customers when entering and leaving the vehicle.

We have not found any jurisdictions where such lights are compulsory or even encourged by authorities

3.3.2.2.1. Applicability to Adelaide

Once again, we would hesitate to suggest that these should be compulsory unless there was a clear case for them being so. Presumably their value for both customers and drivers should be reveal in the market place. There are now new roof signs that display the word TAXI, have on onboard "trouble warning lights", and have gutter lights built in. The PTB, or more appropriately, the SA Taxi Association, should ensure that taxi owners are aware of these.

3.3.3. Reactive measures

3.3.3.1. Radio alarms not duress alarms

A driver who feels his or her security is threatened can use a radio alarm to advise the radio base of his problem. In normal operation, a fully activated alarm (ie. M13 procedure) alerts the base and a hidden microphone transmits the conversation in the cab to the dispatchers. The base would not normally intervene in case the interruption aggravated the situation and increased the level of tension in the cab.

The majority of taxis in the major Australian cities are equipped with some form of radio alarm. In some cabs the location of the activation switch is difficult to reach in an emergency. Where the switch is easily reached, the frequency of false alarms - inadvertent or unnecessary activations by drivers Q is very high. Keatsdale reported that less than 1% of activations in Sydney cabs could be linked to threatening situations.(Keatsdale Pty. Ltd., 1995) This significantly undermines the effectiveness of the alarm and the report cited the instance of a real emergency where, following the alarm activation, the base called the cab to ask whether or not the activation was intentional. On this occasion the intervention had the potential of significantly increasing the tension in the cab.

In the event of a physical assault on the driver, the speed with which assistance can be provided depends upon some knowledge of the cab's location. If police assistance is needed, their response time must also be considered. The effectiveness of the police response will also be linked to the number of false alarms they may have been asked to attend. Although drivers appreciate the assistance provided by the radio alarms, they recognise that, unless combined with other measures such as GPS (see below), t hey are unlikely to provide assistance at the scene in time to prevent the assault and apprehend the assailant.

The effectiveness of the radio alarm is therefore related to the level of training and documented procedures for their operational use(Victoria, 1996).

3.3.3.1.1. Applicability in Adelaide

All cabs in Adelaide are already equipped with radio alarms (M13 buttons). We have not heard reports of high levels of false activations as reported by Keatsdale in Sydney. On the other hand, if we look at the evidence of SATA's incident report forms, the value of such alarms is not particularly impressive. There were seventeen cases in which either the vehicle was damaged, the driver assaulted or the driver robbed. The alarm was activated in only three of these cases. In two the car was located using GPS. (Note that only about a quarter of Adelaide's cabs are on a GPS network, which may suggest that the driver is more likely to use the alarm if on a GPS network, though of course the numbers are too small make any conclusions.)

Radio alarms can have some effect in reducing the incidence or severity of an assault provided that the driver is able to transmit sufficient information before any physical attack takes place to identify his location. He or she then relies upon taxi driver colleagues or the police coming to his or her aid. Clearly, the cab can be immediately located if the duress alarm is fitted on GPS equipped vehicles.

Radio alarms offer little protection for the driver against an unprovoked attack. It is not clear from the survey data and incident reports how much warning of an assault a driver normally receives. Education and training for drivers is very important to help them recognise a potentially dangerous situation developing so that they can activate the alarm as early as possible. However, it is also important to minimise the incidences of false alarms since these undermine the effectiveness of the alarm. The decision to activate the alarm must therefore be carefully judged by the driver. Given the other events needing the driver's attention - other traffic, directions to be followed, etc. - it is not surprising that even experienced drivers will often make the wrong decision and activate the alarm unecessarily or fail to activate it in good time to summon assistance before an assault takes place.

Respondents to the taxi driver survey placed radio alarms fourth in the ranking of effectiveness in increasing driver security. Only GPS of the technical/physical security options scored higher.

The behaviour of the assailant is also important. If he (almost all assailants are male) is aware of the existence of an alarm, he may be more likely to make a sudden and unprovoked attack to prevent the alarm being used. The effectiveness of the radio alarm, with or without GPS, in protecting the driver from assault is therefore poor in comparison with the physical protection of a security shield.

3.3.3.2. Duress Lights/Signs.

As an alternative or addition to the radio contact with the base, activations of the duress switch can also be used to trigger an exterior light or message on the cab. The alarm light or message would not be visible to the cab's occupants (to avoid any increase in tension or aggression) but would alert passersby and other vehicles in the area to the fact that the taxi driver feels threatened.

A duress light system was used in Queensland but drivers were critical that the light only alerted other cabbies. The significance of the duress light was not understood by people outside the industry and therefore help would not be summoned for a driver under attack(James, 1993). In Victoria some cabs are fitted with a variable message sign which displays the following message when the alarm is activated "Driver under attack, please call the Police". In 1996 the government of that state made duress alar ms compulsory. Reports from that state suggest such a high level of false alarms that they are frequently ignored.

The effectiveness of the system would be undermined if assistance was regularly called to taxis in which the driver was unaware that the sign had been activated. The challenge is to provide some indication in the vehicle that the alarm has been activated without alerting the assailant.

Another concern is the use made of the variable message signs when not displaying the emergency signal. Again, the effectiveness of the system would be undermined if advertising messages were regularly carried on the equipment since the emergency message would be less likely to attract immediate attention.

The benefit of duress lights and signs is that the location of the taxi in distress is immediately identified to anyone in the vicinity and this can be relayed to other taxi drivers and the emergency services. The system, however, is of little use if the driver is in an area with no passing traffic or pedestrian activity.

3.3.3.2.1. Applicability in South Australia

The effectiveness of duress signs is limited by the awareness of passers-by and the prominence of the sign to attract attention. In a busy central area, the duress sign would need to compete with for public attention with advertising and information displays. The level of passing activity in these areas might, in any case, dissuade assailants from attack. More likely is an assault in a remote or secluded location where, by definition, there are unlikely to be any witnesses to the assault or the duress si gn.

Another concern with duress lights/signs is the frequency of false activations. We have observed the rate of false alarms in Sydney and anecodotal evidence of similar circumstances in Melbourne. The effectiveness of a duress light/sign will be considerably undermined if on most occasions when assistance is offered the driver is found to be in no danger and unaware that the alarm has been activated.

The M13 radio system is likely to be more effective than duress lights/signs since it immediately alerts the radio base to the possibility of a driver under threat. The seriousness of the threat can normally be ascertained by listening to the in-cab conversations, and the appropriate assistance called without alerting the assailant. However, while duress alarms and duress light/signs used in combination improve the chances of a driver receiving help quickly because more people are likely to be aware of th e driver's plight, little protection is offered against an unprovoked assault.

At this stage we would not recommend duress alarms be mandatory. We note that some roof signs on the market do offer a duress alarm built in. Owners who have these would presumably be better able to attract and retain drivers if drivers think they are valuable.

3.3.3.3. Surveillance cameras.

Surveillance cameras can be fitted to photograph all occupants of the vehicle. Various different system specifications are available. They are normally confined to observations within the vehicle though some systems can have a second camera covering the gutter side of the vehicle as well. They need not depend upon driver activation since some systems can record continuously, recording over the previous observations. Others will record selectively when activated.

A basic question to be addressed is when to activate the cameras. The currently available systems can be set to driver activation, continuous recording or automatic activation in response to the opening of the cab door, setting of the meter or sudden noise/unusual movement in the cab. Some systems can record at a specified number of frames per second, automatically increasing the number of frames when triggered by unusual noise or movement.

There is only limited experience of surveillance cameras in operation in Australia. The views of drivers reported in other studies is that cameras do not provide any immediate assistance in the event of an assault and may serve only to help identify the killer of a dead taxi driver. One significant difference of surveillance cameras compared with radio alarms, signs and lights is that cab occupants are aware that they are being filmed and that the risk of them being apprehended following a criminal act ag ainst the driver is greatly increased. This feature has apparently been noted by at least one of the drivers involved in the video surveillance equipment trials in Adelaide Other issues to be addressed include protection of the equipment in temperature extremes and design and location of the fitments with regard to vehicle occupant safety. The quality of the recorded image is also important, since the benefit of the installation will be lost if the image is not clear enough to support the identification and prosecution of an assailant.

Surveillance cameras will make it easier to identify and apprehend assailants after an attack. They also act as a deterrent since potential assailants will be aware of the high risk of them being identified, apprehended and charged.

3.3.3.3.1. Applicability in South Australia

Since this study was commissioned a trial of in-cab surveillance systems has been initiated by the PTB. A number of different equipment specifications have been installed into a total of thirteen taxis in the city. A separate report on the outcome of this trial will be produced. At the stage of writing (end of February) we have only limited findings, though there have been some interesting instances: a passenger who refused to use the cab because of the camera, and the video being used on one occasion as evidence in the prosecution of a fare evader.

As demonstrated by the trial and experience in Western Australia and New South Wales, specification of the equipment is critically important. Issues of concern are :

  • Passenger privacy - who has access to the film?

  • Image (and sound) quality - are the pictures clear enough in all light conditions to support the identification and prosecution of an offender,

  • Activation - if not continuously recording, is intermittent recording activated by the driver or by events (eg. setting of the meter, door opening, noise or unusual movements in the cab) sufficient?

  • Transmission and/or storage of the images.

Cost is an important consideration. Higher specification systems are more expensive to install, and systems that depend upon central monitoring will have an ongoing running cost. Most systems record images and sound onto a conventional tape or disk. New images are recorded over the existing record until the driver activates an alarm which then protects the last images as potential evidence. Downloading the tape/disk record must take place immediately after activation, requiring the driver to report to base or possibly a police station. This process inevitably costs some time off the road and loss of earnings after each activation.

Our questionnaire survey respondents did not rate the effectiveness of video surveillance equipment in cabs particularly highly, placing it on a par with duress signs/lights and less useful than GPS, M13 alarms and driver and public education programs. Elsewhere , we understand that the priority initially attached to in-cab surveillance in NSW has been reduced and safety screens are now seen as a higher priority for introduction in Sydney cabs.

In comparison with radio alarms and tracking systems, surveillance cameras have the advantage of being a visible deterrent, even if the actual lens itself is not visible. Passengers can be made aware that they are being photographed and that a record of their actions in the taxi will be available as evidence if required. This may be sufficient to deter all but the most determined assailant. It could also prove to be a deterrent against other criminal acts - fare evasion, robbery and damaging the cab.

Although the surveillance cameras are therefore not as immediately effective against assaults as protective shields, they offer some protection against other offences which the shields are unable to offer: fare evasion, damage to the cab and some robbery. It is reasonable to assume that the cameras would deter at least half of these events, depending to some extent on the resulting conviction rate for offenders caught on film.

3.3.3.4. Vehicle Tracking Systems

Vehicle tracking systems such as Global Positioning Systems (GPS) can, when connected to a two-way communication system, allow for the identification of the location of a vehicle to within 10 metres. They provide a very attractive management tool since they allow the dispatcher to provide the optimum allocation of vehicles to radio calls. They can also be used to rapidly identify the location of a driver in trouble, though there are circumstances when they will not work - in buildings, alongside tall buil ding and sometimes under trees.

The question which arises is how the tracking system is activated. The "base" can turn on the system to track any vehicle in the fleet, but how would they know if a taxi driver was under attack. The system could be activated by the driver in much the same way as a duress alarm, but it will also be subject to the problems of false activations and late activations(Keatsdale Pty. Ltd., 1995).

A tracking system provides the driver with the assurance that, when help is needed, the base is able to provide accurate details of the taxi's location - assuming the driver was able to activate the system. There are associated issues related to the management: driver relationships since the system can be used to monitor the operations of individual cabs. As a resource management tool, a tracking system can be shown to be cost effective, The provision of a security facility is not the equipment's primary function, but it is a very positive feature of the systems currently available. However the capital outlay required can be beyond the means of many small fleets.

3.3.3.4.1. Applicability in Adelaide

The cost of a GPS facility is over $1,000 per cab for large fleets but this cost can be offset by the operational enhancements afforded by the system. In Melbourne now GPS is being used with the despatch system to assign the nearest car to a booking, providing a faster service for the customer.

However, the base equipment and software to support the system is a significant fixed cost so that overall GPS is quite expensive for small fleets.

In Adelaide, only the largest cab company, United Yellow, has a GPS installation, though this may well change in the near future. SATA has called for all cabs to have GPS.(South Australian Taxi Association, 1996, p. 2)

United Yellow's experience was a slight decline in its fleet when it introduced GPS, despite the fact that it carried the cost of the GPS facility. It seems operators' and drivers' fears of being tracked were greater than their appreciation of the safety advantages.

It is highly likely that the larger fleets will adopt GPS for operational and safety reasons. If GPS were to be extended to cover the whole Adelaide taxi fleet, some sharing of the base equipment between the smaller companies will be necessary to keep the unit costs down to reasonable levels. Given the competitive nature of taxi operations in the city, such co-operation could be difficult to achieve and may need some central co-ordination by the Passenger Transport Board.

To maximise the effectiveness of GPS (and the M13 duress alarms) in delivering assistance to a taxi driver under threat, radio rooms should circulate details of the cab location to other companies so that as many taxis as possible in the vicinity are aware of the situation.

3.3.3.5. Internal boot release mechanisms

The idea of being able to open a car boot while actually inside the boot arose after several incidents (one in Adelaide about fifteen years ago) in which taxi drivers were locked in the boot by robbers. In one horrific NSW case the car was set alight. Internal boot releases were made mandatory in all Victorian taxis after an incident at the end of 1995 in which a driver was robbed and locked in the boot of the car. (The policy was also motivated by a second report of this occuring, though the report late r proved false.)(Victoria, 1996, p. 5)

In many cases the existing boot release cable is exposed and can be pulled from inside anyway. In cases where the cable is covered by a panel, it simply requires a strong wire leading from the boot release cable with a grip tag attached. The cost involved would be trivial, less than $20.

3.3.3.5.1. Applicability to Adelaide

Criminal activities seem subject to fashion, and to the authors' knowlege there have not been any recent cases of drivers being locked in a boot in Adelaide. Nevertheless they may well reoccur and it would be a sensible measure to ensure that if they did, the driver could escape. It may happen rarely, but the escape mechanism is so cheap that it should be installed. Some regulatory measure would seem most sensible, though either the Board or a body such as the South Australian Taxi Association could also assist the industry by making available a mechanism produced for the purpose. We note that SATA's position paper on taxi driver safety argues that such a boot release measure should be compulsory.

3.3.4. Other technological measures

3.3.4.1. Central locking

Central locking is presented as a safety measure to protect the driver from hostile circumstances outside the cab. People who appear dangerous can be prevented from getting inside the car.

Central locking can also be used to keep some passengers inside the car. Its use to prevent "runners" was discussed in the Keatsdale study.(Keatsdale Pty. Ltd., 1995) Threatening passengers can be prevented from leaving the vehicle and driven directly to a police station. This feature would put the driver in greater danger if he or she is not physically separated from the passengers, and there could be passenger safety concerns if their escape routes were blocked in the event of an emergency.

Similarly, driver activated central locking might place passengers at risk in the event of an accident. The design of sedan vehicles generally used by taxi companies in Australia means that central locking is likely to place the driver at greater risk than if the passenger was able to leave the vehicle. In the London style cabs where the passenger accommodation is separated from the driver's compartment, the doors can be locked but an emergency release handle is available to passengers.

3.3.4.1.1. Applicability to Adelaide

Central locking was not a popular option for our questionnaire respondants, ranking eleventh of the thirteen options. But having said that, it is now standard equipment in cars produced from 1995. Within six years therefore practically the whole fleet will have central locking and so PTB action on this issue is probably not necessary.

Of more concern is the civil liberties aspect, as the use of central locking to hold a passenger may be determined by the courts as a form of unlawful imprisonment or abduction in certain circumstances. The issue should be addressed in the training of drivers.

3.3.4.2. Electric shocks

According to Esteal and Wilson, Parisian taxi drivers can initiate an electric shock on an aggressive passenger, apparently an effective deterrent against assault(Easteal and Wilson, 1991). Some Perth taxi drivers also suggested the use of an air bag to pin aggressors against their seat.

3.3.4.2.1. Applicability to Adelaide

Deterrents like the electric shock or airbags activated by the driver are very unlikely to gain approval for use in Australia because of the risks involved in inappropriate or accidental activation.

3.4. Summary, conclusions

For convenience we have created a summary matrix of the discussion above. We have added a modest assessment of effectiveness and financial cost which we fully accept others may disagree with, even on the basis of our own discussion. Also some of our options contain several features which vary in their effectiveness and cost.


Taxi driver safety options, summary matrix

Issue Addressed Effectiveness Financial Cost Comments
Removing Cash from cab robbery, assault ++ + Unpopular with drivers and some passengers
Public Education fare evasion, assault + ? Cost depends on nature of education
Training various +++ ++ Costs borne by drivers. Will have many side benefits, though will restrict supply of drivers.
Pre-Payment of Fares fare evasion, assault to driver and vehicle +++ --- May damage customer relations
Supercision of taxi ranks various ++ ++ Would need to be targeted to be cost effective
Banning rear window ads assault + ++ Ongoing hidden cost. Would only help in peopled locations
Rewards serious crime + ? Cost (and effectiveness) can depend on amount offered. Good for industry morale.
Improving relations with police various ++ --- Past record shows very difficult to achieve, despite mutual benefits
Removal of seat belt requirements fare evasion, assault + --- Danger in vehicle accidents may outweigh security gains
Increasing fines for fare evasion fare evasion ? --- Would help industry morale. Expiation fees would make more effective
Protective screens assault +++
(while seated in car)
++ Unpopular with many drivers. The more effective need purpose built vehicles.
Gutter side lights various + + Has useful side benefits
Radio Alarms various ++ ++
Duress alarms various + + Danger of false activations. Only effective in peopled areas.
Surveillance cameras various +++
(for activities in car)
+++ Also protect customers. Privacy implications.
Vehicle tracking systems serious assault +
(++ in conjunction with radio alarms)
+++ Have other benefits which may justify costs
Internal boot releases robbery, assault +++ + Cheap, but rarely needed. Not effective as a general measure to increase security.
Centralised locking fare evasion +++ + Danger of misuse. Use to prevent 'runners' may be illegal.
Electric Shocks various +++ + Use would be unacceptable.

3.4.1. Conclusions

Technical measures will always be strongly advocated by those selling them. They are attractive to governments because they are tangible - a visible sign that something is being done. But any assessment of them needs to consider (1) how effective they are, and (2) what the the negatives - expense, inconvenience, poor marketing implications and the installation of a false sense of security in drivers.8

Non-technological approaches are generally not subject to the "hype" pushing new technology. But they may also have a value which is mainly symbolic. Once again they need to be assessed in terms of their costs (widely defined) and side benefits, as well as their apparent effectiveness.

While we generally agree that prevention is better than cure, we do not share an apparent negative attitude toward measures that are "merely" reactive. They may in fact have a powerful deterrent effect. However for this to be the case their existence needs to be heavily publicised.

Our views regarding the PTB's approach to the adoption of these options is contained in the final section of this report. but some are cheap, or have other benefits

Conclusions and recommendations

4.1. Introduction

In this concluding chapter we will discuss three broad issues about which the Passenger Transport Board should be clear when making decision about particular options for improving driver safety. These are:

  • how should responsibility for improving taxi driver safety be shared,

  • what degree of compulsion should authorities use to improve safety,

  • what are the appropriate institutional arrangements for making decisions about taxi driver safety.

4.2. Taxi driver safety - whose responsibility?

Clearly no one measure will solve the problems raised in this report and in many cases particular measures can only be introduced if government, radio companies, owners and drivers collaborate. They all have a part to play. In the following section we will discuss in a broad sense the responsibilities that each should have.

4.2.1. Taxi drivers' responsibility

Like all of us, taxi drivers take risks. Opposition both to safety shields in other cities and to moves to remove cash as a basis of transactions reveal that drivers are sometimes willing to trade-off risks of robbery and violence for financial remuneration. Ultimately it is up to the drivers themselves to make decisions regarding their own safety; how much risk they are willing to take.

If, however, drivers demand others to also take some responsibility for their safety (quite reasonable, in a context of occupational safety legislation) they should at least co-operate in efforts made by others. If as a result of their demands certain procedures and options are adopted, it is the drivers' responsibility to see that these procedures and options are followed and used effectively.

The clearest case in which drivers are failing in this regard is in the reporting of incidents occuring during their shifts. It is frustrating for those charged with identifying the nature of the problem and evaluating solutions to find so little information on which to make informed decisions. Ultimately we are left to "tip of the iceberg" assumptions, based on anecdotal evidence, to justify recommending any action at all. Quite frankly, the number of the industry's own report forms filled in in any one month is infinitesimal when measured against the number of hirings.

But while it is all very well to point out the drivers' responsibility for themselves, it must be recognized that the larger the numbers for whom responsibility is assigned, the less they will feel obliged to take up that responsibility. Everybody's responsibility is nobody's responsibility. There have been several academic contributions which argue for "upstream" intervention to create situations that do not rely on individuals. Philip Stenning quotes (largely deductive) postgraduate research into taxi driver safety which concluded that "the most effective [protective measures for taxi drivers] are those that are made in the public or private institutional structures, that require limited or no effort by the individual". (quoted, Stenning, 1995, p. 73)

4.2.2. Taxi owners' responsibility:

To what extent should the taxi operator assume responsibility for the safety of his or her drivers?9 As we have seen in s. 2, the structure of the industry inhibits taxi operators taking responsibility. With revenue shared rather than wages paid, they deny they are in any sense employers. With vehicles increasingly being shift leased (i.e. the vehicle/licence is hired for a shift, with all revenue to the driver) some argue the relationship is akin to a person hiring some equipment for the day to do some work. How could the hire company be seen as an employer?

Nevertheless, drivers are regarded as employees for the purposes of Workers Compensation Act, which implies operators should abide by its provisions. Of course if they do not pay the Workcover premiums they will be fined if a claim is made. Owners can expect those drivers they use to be properly trained according to the syllabus of the training module. However the key position of the owner both in terms of his responsibility for the vehicle and his relationship with the radio company does make some responsibilities expedient. For example, owners should ensure that the drivers know the radio company's safety procedures and that drivers understand how to use safety features installed in the car (one incident report form noted the driver did not use the duress alarm because he did not know where it was).

But of course more contentious is the issue of whether owners should pay for the installation of the equipment. Ultimately the cost of equipment will be paid for either out of general revenue (the community as a whole) or the industry (generally, the customer). In the case of the industry, if the costs can be smoothly passed onto the customer it really doesn't matter who pays the costs initially. If the technology represents an asset then naturally the person who becomes the owner of that asset should pay for it.

But of course in reality things are never that smooth and decisions on what financial costs should be imposed on owners should at least consider ability to pay. The most expensive options would be the installation of GPS systems and video surveillance cameras. The former cost over a thousand dollars, but the operational advantages of these for the radio companies suggest that this amount will be covered by the company. Video camera systems range from about $2000 to about $7000. These figures seem relatively small given that the average taxi is about an $80000 a year business, excluding capital gains from the plate value. Seen in this context the payment the one-off payment of even $5000 for say, video surveillance and a shield does not seem too onerous. But the response of owners is that it is the margins that matter and that these are very tight. Unfortunately we are not in a position to judge just how tight the margins are and in any case they would vary a good deal.

Of Adelaide's taxis that are leased the weekly lease rate for a licence only is about $320. (With the car it is about $900.) Lessees find it tough and there is a high turnover rate, but nevertheless the market in leasing still thrives and some individuals are operating with multiple leased plates. The ongoing costs of owning a plate are negligible suggesting a possible financial cushion of up to $320 a week, depending on capital costs. Of course owners bear the risk of a possible decline in licence values and the opportunity cost of investing about $150,000 in a taxi plate is 8%10 . Against this, taxi plates have risen to their current price from about $100, 000 five years ago - a healthy capital gain to add to the lease income.

All of this suggests owners of plates could afford some safety measures. But it depends on when they bought their licence and (in their perception) what is a fair return for the risk they take. If they operate the vehicle as well the situation is more difficult to determine, though one could reasonably assume that if they were not making a reasonable return they would simply lease the licence. Also as we have previously pointed out, it may well be that the costs will in some way be passed on to drivers through a lower than otherwise rate of commission.

4.2.3. Radio companies' responsibility

The radio companies (centralised booking services) are providing a service to taxi owners and their drivers. They supply them with work in return for the payment of a fee. It could be argued that in a competitive situation it is up to them to determine what safety measures they should adopt to attract customers. On the other hand, they do exercise a degree of authority over drivers in order to maintain fleet standards. They are also accredited by the Passenger Transport Board, suggesting a further element of responsibility in addition to those of a supplier of a service.

Several of the measures discussed in s.3 involve the radio companies. If the measures are adopted the radio companies have a responsibility to ensure that they are not ineffective because of failures on their part. All companies operate an M13 system. They should ensure that drivers and radio operators know the procedures, code words etc., and co-operate in the development of standard procedures. As we have noted earlier, one of the few measures which might have saved Andrew Morowicz would have been a call back by the radio company when he found the porch light not on. However this would require the company to obtain some sort of identification for customers booking at night.

Respondents to Stenning's survey made a number of suggestions of ways radio companies could improve driver safety. Some of the more relevant suggestions in an Australian context were:

  • help in the development of more co-operative relations with the police,

  • ensure drivers are given better information about potentially hazardous customers and locations,

  • encourage the reporting of incidents by taking such reports more seriously,

  • generally be more people-oriented than profit-oriented. One driver expressed it thus: "All they want is money. They should care more about taxi drivers."

(Stenning, 1995, p. 52)

In the course of our research we have been made aware of the conflict of interest faced by despatchers between their desire to see that a customer receives the service and their responsibility not to put the driver in danger. There will always be grey areas where judgement is needed, but clearly despatchers should not deliberately mislead the driver about the reliability or safety of the circumstances they are asking the driver to enter, for example by giving a false impression of the customer's reliability.

4.2.4. Passenger Transport Board responsibility

There was a strong "feeling" in the focus groups that government should "contribute" to the cost of any technical solutions, though in the facilitator's view many drivers were "expressing a wish rather than a strongly held belief".

If some responsibility is accepted by the Passenger Transport Board there are various courses it could take. It could insist on certain measures, perhaps in conjunction with an additional fare rise to at least partially cover this cost. It could subsidize in part the installation of technical measures

An object of the Passenger Transport Act is a safe passenger transport network. s. 20 of the Act provides the Passenger Transport Board with the ability to enforce measures to this end. However these features of the legislation do not imply that the PTB itself takes responsibility for the safety of the industry. The Board has multiple responsibilities, some of which conflict. It has to be heedful of its responsibilities to the travelling public.

Government has a responsibility to monitor the systems in place to see that they are working effectively. For example while it is probably not appropriate that the PTB delivers taxi driver training, it has a responsibility to see that in matters of safety the driver training course is evaluated on an ongoing basis by those capable of judgement and that if changes are to be made, ensuring they are made. For example it could conduct surveys of drivers six months out of their training course to see what they have thought of the course in the light of their experiences. (This would have an important side benefit of providing information about driver turnover.)

What the government should not do is to suggest in anyway that it takes full responsibility for taxi driver safety. It is easy when engaging in political rhetoric to claim that by adopting particular approaches the government is ensuring a "safe" industry. Such claims will rebound when it is clear that there are still dangers. The government may be held responsible when in fact it never could assure complete safety.

The economic context discussed in s.2.4 tips the balance in favour of taking risk. Regulatory authorities need to recognize that decisions they make impact on that economic context and indirectly on safety. Unfortunately the financial circumstances will cause some drivers to take chances they know they shouldn't.

At one extreme the institutions can accept the responsibility for driver safety. At the other they can disavow it, stressing at all times the ultimate responsibility of the driver. Policy makers should be aware of both the attractions and dangers of both these extremes. The drivers responsibility for their own safety should be stressed, particularly in training.

4.3. What degree of compulsion should be used?

At the focus group discussions there was apparently no dissent from the view that if specific technical solutions were introduced they needed to be compulsory; the arguing being that if "villains" would seek out cabs without the equipment, resulting in greater risk for the unequipped drivers.

There is also the argument that some equipment would make the cab less attractive to quite innocent customers: screens create a unhealthy image, videos give the perception that privacy is being invaded and so on. These customers would shun equipped cabs.

However government should be aware that the assumption of political responsibility by government may become a legal responsibility. Terry Smythe, in advice referred to earlier, argues

"When the regulatory authority begins to mandate safety equipment, it accepts some responsibility, and companion liability if the protective measures don't work. And all of these protective measures will not guarantee a driver full protection. Some will continue to be assaulted and murdered, and the finger will point squarely at the regulatory authority for "failing to keep drivers safe".

While Mr Smythe was writing in a Canadian political and legal context, one can see similar trends here.

Video cameras are a case in point. They have important collateral advantages of deterring fare evasion and untoward behaviour by both the passengers and the driver. They should be attractive to the driver and the customer. But they are expensive. It could be argued in such circumstances each vehicle owner should make the decision as to whether on not a camera should be installed, with drivers having the choice whether to seek such cabs to drive in and customers as to whether to use such cabs. In this case the role of the PTB could be confined to specifying basic operating requirements of the camera and the recording mechanism and specifying the information given to customers so that the would know whether or not a camera was installed. A part subsidy could be paid to encourage the installation.

4.4. Appropriate institutional arrangements

If the PTB does use its authority to impose measures, then it should ensure that this done in order to provide a service desired by those facing the danger. The implication is that the measure should genuinely be desired by the industry and that there is a consensus that it should be mandatory.

The introduction noted that expertise in this area is largely an emperor without clothes. There is not the information available to confidently predict the value of a particular measure and only the people who pay for it can assess how much the cost means to them. Therefore consultation and consensus are essential. As much as possible the people affected by the measures should make the decisions as to their adoption.

We have had enough experience, however to know that we cannot expect mass participation by drivers in any consultation exercise. But it is important that they at least have the opportunity to do so and that, as far as possible, they are truly represented in the decision-making process.

The strengthening of the Taxi Driver Safety Committee would be a means of bringing those affected into the process. The recent establishment of safety officers for each centralised booking service is a step in the right direction. However it is important that these positions be accountable to drivers to prevent them becoming a mere token in the future. When it comes to the appointment of authorised positions within the taxi industry, the tendency is to appoint employees of radio companies, who take on the role as part of their overall duties. The success with which they perform their functions typically varies a great deal. They are company representatives, not driver representatives.

One way of seeing that the functions of the safety officer to act on behalf of drivers are carried out would be to have the officers themselves elected by the drivers in the fleet. In this case the candidates would be current drivers. Some financial compensation would need to be paid to encourage competent people to stand for the position and it would be highly desirable for these representatives to undergo training in occupational health and safety issues. This amount should be paid at least via the Passenger Transport Board and formal meetings should be facilitated through the Board, to create a genuine partnership. Another means of strengthening driver interests would be to have a labour lawyer on any such committee as an advocate for the workforce.

Such a body would probably determine its own role, but at this stage it would seem well placed to

  • advise the government on policies that require the imposition of authority - mandatory measures

  • monitor and evaluate safety measures such as training

  • conduct a debriefing by victims and ensuring that their legal rights are exercised

  • supervise mentoring and counselling programs

  • maintain a database of passenger offenders

  • advise the government on the expenditure of funds for safety measures.

While it is hoped that this report has helped clarify views about the problem of taxi driver safety and the measures to deal with it, the most important thing for the government is that it gets the decision-making process right.


Footnotes

1 That is, those canying out a legal activity for an income.

2 In Adelaide in 1996 about a third of hirings were initated in these ways.

3 As we have discussed, it is not, but while one factor would suggest the real level of victimisation would be higher (it under-represents night drivers) another factor would suggest the real level of victimisafion would be lower (the voluntary nature of the survey would imply that those who has suffered recently would be more likely to fill it in).

4 Using the formula of weighting very useflil as one, usefull as two, no effect as three, not useful as four and not at all useful as five, then dividing the total by the total number of respondants.

5 The Baseline study has found earnings typically four or five cents a kilometre less than this.

6 Message posted on taxi user group network, Taxi-l, 29 October, 1996.

7 Various press reports downloaded from Reuters Business Briefing. Reports of incidents in Australia, USA, Canada, UK and Indonesia

8 The phenonomenon of the increasing ineffectiveness of risk avoidance measures as human beings become more complacent has been the subject of recent academic study. See Wilde, Gerald (1994) Target Risk: Dealing with the danger of death, disease and damage in everyday decisions, PDE Publications. (An abbreviated version of this appears on the internet at http://pavlov.psyc.queensu.ca/target.) See also a review of books dealing with this phenomenon: Flannery, Tim “Defective Solutions” in the Australian’s Review of Books, November, 1996.

9 Remembering of course that in many, if not most cases, the owner will also drive the taxi.

10 The current ten year bond rate.


References

Stenning, Philip, (1996) 'Fair game, fair cop - victimisation of, and policing by, taxi drivers in three Canadian cities: Report of a preliminary study' Centre of Criminology, University of Toronto, TR1996-18e.r

Barton, Gordon, (1995) 'Dressing for effectiveness - and personal safety' The Regulator Vol. 6 (1), pp. 4-6.

Barton, Gordon, (1991) 'Taxicab Safety Shields Report and Specifications' Manitoba Taxicab Board, November, http://www.freenet.mb.ca/taxi/papers.html

Easteal, Patricia Weiser and Wilson, Paul R, (1991) Preventing crime on transport: rail, buses, taxis, planes Australian Institute of Criminology. transport, taxi driver safety

Haines, F and Cahill, C, (1996) 'Survey of Dandenong taxi drivers: towards a safer working environment for Victorian taxi drivers' Victorian Taxi Driver Safety Committee, report of survey. see taxi driver safety file

James, C, (1993) 'Taxi drivers: the extent and impact of violence at work' Griffith University, may be a student

Keatsdale Pty. Ltd., (1995) 'A Report on taxi drivers safety for the NSW Department of Transport' December.

Manitoba Taxi Safety Shields Task Force, (1990) 'Report of the Taxi Safety Shields Task Force' http://www.winnipeg.freenet.mb.ca/taxi/shields.html

Rathbone, Charles, (1994) '606 Taxicab Driver Homicides in United States and Canada 1980-1994' Charles Rathbone, July, http://www.freenet.mb.ca/taxi

South Australian Taxi Association, (1996) 'Taxi Driver Safety Position Paper' SATA.

Stone, J R, Walther, E and Proctor, C H, (1995) 'Assaults against taxi drivers and protection strategies' prepared for Southeastern Transportation Center, North Carolina,

Stone, John, (1996) 'Taxi Driver Security' in Taxi Driver Security Conference Montreal: sponsored by the Security Committee, Montreal Urban Community Taxi Bureau. There's a little bit of aggression in all of us': Aggressive behaviour by Taxi Drivers' Australian Institute of Criminology,

Victoria, (1995) "Victorian Government Response to the First Report of the Crime Prevention Committee's Inquiry into Personal Safety on the Public Transport System : Developing a Safer Taxi Industry" April.

Victoria, Taxi Driver Safety Committee, (1996) 'Progress Report to the Minister for Roads and Ports' August.

Victoria, Taxi Driver Saftey Committee, (1996) 'Progress report to the Minister for Roads and Ports' Victorian Taxi Directorate, August.

Workman, J and Johnson, K, (1989) 'The role of clothing in extended inferences' Home Economics Research Journal Vol. 18, pp. 164-169.


Appendices

Appendix 3

Taxi Driver

FOCUS GROUPS

Report

October 1996

Executive Summary

In response to community concern over the murder of a taxi driver, a series of focus groups were held on the 28th and 29th of October. Participants came from a variety of backgrounds and included drivers, owners and industry representatives. Attendees were asked to participate in an informal discussion about violence in the industry and potential approaches to improving workplace safety. Specifically participants were asked about

  • the nature and extent of violence in the industry,

  • the merit of proposed technological solutions and

  • the most appropriate strategies for improving safety in the industry.

It was generally agreed that taxi drivers had a difficult and dangerous job. Specifically, they believe that violence and agression was a significant day- to-day reality for drivers and that alcohol intoxication was a major predisposing factor. Participants felt that the industry was not well served by current OH&S legislation. Importantly, they believed that much could be done to improve workplace safety and this could best be achieved through an integrated safety initiative targeted at the taxi industry.

A variety technological solutions were proposed including video surveillance, GP5 tracking systems, protective screens, "alarm" systems, lighting etc. The general consensus was that technical solutions in and of themselves would be unlikely to solve the problem. There was also a belief that the `Fort Knox" approach may, paradoxically, escalate violence and reduce the quality of working life. It is important to note that participants felt several of the proposed technical solutions were based on improved apprehension `after the event' rather than prevention.

When asked about the most appropriate strategies for improving safety in the industry. participants consistently identified shortcomings in current OH&S legislation and inadequate training and education as the key issues. Most importantly, the participants felt that driver training should be professionalised and expanded to include public relations and conflict resolution skills. Many drivers felt that training should comprise a mixture of pre- and in-service training. In addition, they also felt that the criminal justice system should assign a greater seriousness to crimes against taxi drivers.

Participants felt that some of the technical solutions have merit but should focus on preventive approaches rather than better apprehension of offenders. There was overwhelming support for compulsory central locking as the least expensive and most effective technological solution. Video cameras were felt to be a reasonable initiative if they were compulsory, clearly visible and continuously recorded using a vehicle-based black-box system. It was generally held that the government and PTB should play a significant role in funding any trial initiatives. They also felt that outcome evaluations were important if significant costs were to accrue to owners

Background

In response to community concern over the recent murder of a driver, the Minister for Transport (Di Laidlaw) commissioned a study into taxi violence in the industry. This study was undertaken by the Passenger Transport Board in conjunction with the Transport Systems Centre at the University of S.A.

Preliminary discussions with the industry indicated that questionnaire or survey methodologies had not been well received in the past. As a consequence, it was felt that methodologies requiring written responses might suffer from poor participation rates. By using an informal qualitative methodology, we believed that drivers would be most likely to participate and to actively describe the day-to-day aspects of violence in the industry. We also believed that opinions expressed using this format would be full and frank.

Given the time constraints surrounding the project. we believed the focus groups were the most appropriate and cost-effective way to identify the key issues relevant to drivers and to determine their perceptions of how best to prevent and reduce violence in the taxi industry.

As part of a larger study, a series of focus groups were held on the 28th and 29th of October 1996. These focus groups were organised by Wally Seivers from the Public Transport Board and facilitated by Associate Professor Drew Dawson, School of Psychology, University of S.A.

Each of the three focus group typically involved 1O-12 individuals at a time. Participants were owners, owner-drivers. and full and part-time drivers. During the sessions they talked informally about their experiences in the industry, their views on issues surrounding the death and how best to improve safety in the industry.

The sessions lasted between 90 and 120 minutes and were recorded. Selection of drivers for the groups was done quasi-randomly. Those who participated had responded to a general radio call to drivers to discuss the issues around the death of Andrew Mordowycz. In addition, several drivers who had been the victims of violent episodes were also approached and encouraged to participate.

Our impression was that the group was representative of drivers in the Adelaide workforce in general. In addition several industry advocates participated. Taken together, we believe that the groups constituted a reasonable cross-section of the industry and that the opinions expressed were representative.

Specifically the drivers were asked to discuss:

  • the nature and extent of violence in the industry.

  • the merit of specific proposed technological solvtions.

  • what they believed was the most appropriate strategy for reducing violence in the industry.

Results

General

The drivers indicated that they appreciated the opportunity to discuss the issues and have their views considered by policymakers. They felt that the focus group format was a novel initiative and one that they endorsed. They also felt that the use of the focus group format indicated a strong commitment to meaningful consultation between policymakers and the industry.

In response to the first question, the general feeling of the groups was that the murder was an extremely i~olated incident and one that was, to a large extent, difficult to anticipate or prevent. There was a consensus that very little could have been done under the circumstances. As one of the drivers suggested "most of us figure he was in the wrong place at the wrong time. When your numbers up your numbers up".

Drivers also strongly expressed the opinion that low level violence and aggression were a far more important aspect of workplace safety than high profile incidents such as the death of Andrew Mordowycz. All drivers reported significant incidents in their driving history and a straw poll suggested that for the drivers who attended one or more incidents a year was not uncommon. Participants felt that there was a high degree of variability in the rate of incidents amongst drivers and there were clearly some who "attracted trouble". In general it was felt that those who attracted incidents were likely to be younger, less experienced and less skilled in conflict resolution.

Many believed that it would take an event such as the death of a driver to galvanise policymakers to respond to violence in their workplace. Interestingly, they were also concerned that the death and subsequent inquiry may result in a knee-jerk response that failed to address the major issues. The dilemma was best expressed by one driver who said

"I am really sorry that Andrew died. I know that it takes an event like this to get anyone to listen but I hope they get it right. The main thing we have to deal witb is day-to-day violence, not murders and muggings. Let's not over-react. My only hope is that Andrew's death can focus everyone on how we deal with it ... violence in general not just the incident. The last thing we need is some pie-in-the-sky solution dreamed up by the boffins. It would probably cost us a fortune and probably wouldn't work".

The drivers consistently expressed the idea that violence in the industry was part of a broader political problem. In particular, they thought that the industry had failed to address the broad issue of occupational health and safety in a comprehensive and meaningful way. It was their belief that the fiscal structure of the industry encouraged owners and employers to abrogate their responsibility to provide a safe workplace. Tbey acknowledged that the industry was tight and that profit margins were low and this was a significant problem for owners. Many of the owners indicated that the cost of meeting health and safety requirements (i.e. WorkCover payments) could bankrupt them.

All participants believed that the industry and government need to focus on the issue systematically and to acknowledge the unique aspects of the industry vis-a-vis the WorkCover Act and the delivery of OH&S training. Several participants expressed the idea that there should be a specific group given responsibility for this issue. In particular they believed that specific OH&S regulations should be designed for the taxi industry.

There was considerable discussion about the reluctance of owners to introduce safety measures, of drivers to fill out incident reports, and the general transience of the industry encouraged non-compliance.

This theme was re-iterated at several levels by all participants. Drivers felt that policymakers should focus on the broad issues and not get distracted by specific incidents. Drivers frequently expressed the idea that many of the issues are symptomatic of the industry in general and would be best addressed through a systematic re-appraisal of safety in the industry. While all reasonable efforts should be made to avoid major crimes, practical measures that would most benefit the drivers should target the frequent low-level incident of violence and robbery both of which are common aspects of the drivers working environment.

Consistent with the idea of broad systematic reform, drivers argued that if resources were to be spent on improving safety, it should be spent on the following issues:

  • driver education

  • public education

  • technical solutions

Driver education

Drivers believed very strongly that the industry must professionalise itself and that driver training needs to be upgraded to reflect the skills necessary for the job. As one driver said

"most people think that all you need to know is where the streets are! This is the trivial aspect of driving. You need to develop a lot of other skills before you can make it. You need to have a sixth sense about the customers. You need to know who not to pick up (and when). Nost of all you need to know how to handle the drunks."

Nany of the drivers responded to this theme. They believed that the best solution to the problem was to develop better training programmes for drivers so that they were appropriately skilled for the job. All of the drivers felt that inadequate training contributed significantly to violence and that poor conflict resolution skills were a key issue to be addressed.

It is important to note that this view was not endorsed strongly by the owners. In response, some of the drivers suggested that owners had a vested interest in keeping certification and training standards low. It was their belief that low skill levels and rapid accreditation ensured a large pool of potential drivers and relatively low wages. Drivers also indicated that they felt that the low skill levels and poor training contributed to high staff turn-over rates. If, as the drivers suggest, inexperienced drivers are most at risk, high turnover rates will produce lower aggregate skill levels in the workforce. This, in turn, may contribute to greater number of incidents due to inexperience and reduce safety in the industry.

The general view was that many of the problems could be solved through a more comprehensive training programme. This should feature a combination of pre-employment and post employment modules, be competency-based and take a broader perspective that addresses interpersonal and communication training, conflict resolution training and how to avoid difficult situations. Participants also felt that some form of mentoring system might be helpful. Specifically they felt that mentoring could shorten the time drivers spent on the 'learning

Public education

Participants felt strongly that community perceptions of the industry played an important role in theii safety. In particular they believed that the lack of professionalism was a significant issue. They also felt very strongly that community perceptions of crimes against taxi drivers were inappropriate. In particular, several drivers commented on the fact that the judicial consequences of taxi crimes were relatively trivial. In essence they believed that crimes against taxi drivers should be assigned greater significance i.e. similar to crimes against train and bus drivers or police officers.

The participants also commented on the industry awareness programmes currently based on television advertisements. Several drivers felt that this model could be expanded to include a broader range of issues. Some drivers disagreed with this approach and argued that the majority of consumers were well behaved and courteous and large community education approaches only 'preached to the converted'. These drivers argued "that l0% of the customers cause 90% of the grief and we would be better to target our resources more directly".

The general consensus was that where public education approaches are to be used, the choice of strategy will probably reflect the resources available. There was also a strong feeling that inappropriate public awareness campaigns are often used to make the policy makers look good rather than achieve effective behavioural outcomes. As one driver commented

"If they are really serious they will do what we think. That would be a nice change. I just hope we get something that is good for the industry and not just something to make politicians feel like they are doing something"

Several of the groups raised the issue of fare pre-payment. It was their belief that the inability to require pre-payment was an important pre-cursor to violent episodes. Although it initially appeared as a relatively tangential issue, all of the drivers agreed that many 'incidents' could be avoided through optional prepayment requirements. They felt that all other modes of public transport required pre-payment and that principle should be extended to taxi drivers. By doing this, many potentially violent incidents could be avoided.

Technical Solutions

There was a general consensus that the compulsory introduction of technology should be considered carefully. There was a strong sense that the driver who died could not have been saved through any currently available technology. There was a widely held belief that many of the currently proposed solutions were more directed to helping the police solve the crime than improve safety. As one driver put it "all this technology (GPS and video) would enable us to do is find the body and let everyone watch it on the news. If we get any kind of technology at all, it should try and stop the violence before it happens."

Many of the participants identified strongly with this comment and suggested that technological solutions might create a paradoxical effect. Nany felt that the "Fort Knox" approach may increase the violence rather than reduce it. They also felt strongly that physical barriers (The New York solution) would create a work environment that reduced customer contact and create a sense of isolation that would further decrease job satisfaction.

Some drivers felt that technical solutions may lead to a sense of false security. Several expressed the opinion that over-reliance on the technology may result in drivers taking risks they might otherwise avoid. Many believed that they possessed a 'sixth sense' for the bad customer and this was an important skill gained on the job. It was felt that some solutions may lead to less experienced drivers placing less emphasis on intuitive or subliminal impressions and picking up customers who could be avoided.

Specific technological solutions were discussed but all of the drivers believed that they must not be implemented in isolation. Many felt that the industry requires a major OHSS shake-up and that this consultative process should focus strongly on an industry wide initiative to improve overall health and safety.

The majority felt that driver-controlled central locking was the single biggest need. Nany of the drivers be(ieved that the capacity to control entry (or exit) from cabs was the critical issue in terms of avoiding problematic incidents. There was some support for video surveillance within cabs. Some drivers thought that it may have a preventative effect although not all were convinced. Others expressed reservations on the technical aspects of how the system would work in practice.

There was general agreement that if video surveillance was to be implemented it should be highly visible rather than 'hidden camera'. Participants felt this would maximise the deterrent value. There was also strong agreement that surveillance should be continuous and recorded in the vehicle. Some drivers suggested that a 'black box' approach whereby video was recorded on a 8hr video-tape recorder stored in the boot would be the most appropriate. Others commented that this may encourage serious damage to the vehicle in order to avoid detection.

There was considerable discussion around the use of "alarm" systems. There were mixed responses to this. Some agreed that it would be a good idea. Others felt that the response times for emergency services would be too long to prevent incidents or aid in conviction rates. There was considerable discussion around limitations in the technology. In particular, many felt that the high false alarm rate may lead to compiacency in response teams and a false sense of security.

All participants agreed that if specific technical solutions were to be introduced they must be compulsory. They felt that optional or selective use of video may result in risk transfer. That is, 'the villains' would seek out cabs without the equipment and this could result in a greater risk for unequipped drivers. There was a strong feeling that the government should contribute to the cost of any technical solution. However, it was the facilitators' belief that this issue was not well presented and that many drivers were expressing a wish rather than strongly held belief. For many the industry margins are felt to be so tight that the idea of paying several thousand dollars to re-equip a cab was considered prohibitive.


Appendix 4

55 Rowand Avenue
Winnipeg, MB
Canada R3J 2N6
(204) 832-3982
InterNet email: smythe@mts.net
InterNet Home Page: http://www.mts.net/~smythe

29 October 1996

Mayor Dianne Haskett
City of London
Ontario

Re: Taxi Driver Safety, Taxi Liaison SubCommittee Meeting 3:00 PM 30 October 1996

Late this afternoon, I received a message appealing for information relative to taxi driver safety, for consideration at a meeting 3:00 PM 30 October 1996, of the Taxi Liaison SubCommittee, and to fax that information to your office soonest.

I am the former General Manager of the Manitoba Taxicab Board, now retired. I have retained a strong interest in taxi driver safety, and continue to advocate a number of measures that can be implemented. My interest in helping this industry has extended into the InterNet where I have founded and maintain a resource centre containing a substantial amount of information relative to taxi driver safety.

The issue of taxi driver safety continues to escalate in importance and sensitivity, particular since the National Institute of Occupational Safety & Health confirmed with hard data that driving a taxicab is the most dangerous occupation of all, at 41.4 homicides per 100,000 workers, some 60 times the average work related homicides of 0.70/1000,000. Assaults on taxi drivers incur even greater, more ominous rates, although less accurate as a huge majority of such assaults are believed to go unreported.

In the 8+ years I've been researching this sensitive issue, I have swung full circle from the parental viewpoint to the arms length viewpoint. There was a time when I was all for the regulatory authority mandating GPS, safety shields, and whatever. However, I have come to realize that the taxi industry itself has the fundamental responsibility for protecting its own. When the regulatory authority begins to mandate safety equipment, it accepts responsibility, and companion liability if the protective measures don't work. And all of these protective measures will not guarantee a driver full protection. Some will continue to be assaulted and murdered, and the finger will point squarely at the regulatory authority for "failing to keep drivers safe".

It is universally accepted that some 98%+ of the assaults and murders on taxi drivers are robbery motivated. Raw cash is the lure, and so long as that lure is present, taxi drivers will continue to be assaulted and murdered. It will not diminish, it will get worse.

Since antiquity, the industry has been highly successful in maintaining its operations on a cash basis. Repeated efforts by regulatory authorities to migrate the industry to the cashless taxi have been greeted by fierce opposition. A huge majority of drivers seem willing to accept the risk of assault and murder, gambling it will not happen to them, just so they can sustain the presence of raw cash. Without exception, all contemporary safety measures but one attempt to deal with the continuing presence of raw cash.

If the industry really wants to protect its drivers, the single most decisive action it can take is to migrate to the cashless taxi, and accept the companion audit trail that is an integral part of such technology. Safety shields are a potential answer, as also safety training, GPS, in-car safes, automatic door locks, in-car video cameras, et al. There are a host of devices and techniques, all imperfect in varying degrees. In the absence of the cashless taxi, I rank safety training the highest, by a country mile.

A regulatory authority's first responsibility is to his employer, the general tax paying public. They want safe, courteous, professional personalized transportation, and that's what tax dollars pay for. The regulatory authority must not ever find itself in the position of becoming the personnel department for the industry. The industry has first responsibility for recruitment, selection, training, supervision, discipline, etc. Unfortunately, with the birth of the independent contractor emerging from changes in the tax laws in the early 70's, the regulatory authority has all too often slipped by default and historic inattention, into the role of the Personnel Department.

There may be opposition to mandating that the industry resume responsibility for its drivers, and resume its responsibility as the Personnel Department for the industry. It is the industry that must recruit, select, train, supervise and discipline its own drivers, no different than any other employer. The critical ingredient is the "taxicab business licence".

Regardless if it is called a licence, permit, medallion, or whatever, the principle in common law is the same. A licence is not a tangible piece of real property. It is an intangible "permission" to do something for a fixed period of time. At the end of that time, the permission expires with no imbedded right of continuance, no guarantee that the licence holder may re-acquire the same licence again year to year, no guarantee the licence will not be revoked for cause, and no guarantee that the regulatory environment will not one day change.

In my opinion, leasing and street values have become the twin scourges of the industry. Tax laws in the early 70's underwent some fundamental changes out of which the independent contractor was born. As a consequence, we now have a situation where the regulatory authority issues licences to operate a vehicle for-hire business, but the licence holders often do not do this. All too often, they are in the licence leasing business.

They may lease their licence to someone else, who may have a licence to "drive" a taxicab, but does not have a licence to operate a vehicle for-hire business. In some extreme cases, a driver will lease a licence from one person, lease a taxicab from another person, both with upfront money, then go out and hope he can earn in 12 hours what he paid up front, and then some for his time and effort. In most jurisdictions, lease fees are not regulated.

It boils down to "care and control". With leasing, we have a situation where the licence holder does not have care and control of the vehicle, and goes to extraordinary lengths to ensure with absolute legal clarity that in fact he does not have care and control over either the driver or the vehicle. But the person who does have care and control of the vehicle, the driver, does not have a licence to operate a vehicle for-hire business. One wonders why the insurance companies have not challenged this fundamental anomaly.

On the issue of satellite navigation (GPS), there is ever expanding acceptance of it as a first class dispatch tool. Customer service takes a substantial boost upon implementation, and the city becomes a winner. Yes, GPS is a good aid for quickly locating a driver in peril. However, the motive for implementing GPS must focus on dispatch and customer service. Driver safety emerges as a no-additional-cost benefit.

Safety shields are a media favorite, not an industry favorite, not a customer favorite. Yes, they will provide modest protection from an assault, but will also intrude into customer service. The question of customer safety in the event of a collision has never been resolved. A regulatory authority cannot, nor should not, design a safety shield, sell a safety shield, nor build a safety shield. What a regulatory authority can do is specify what a safety shield must do. And that has already been done. A copy of the Manitoba Safety Shields Report is available for download on the "Taxicab Web Site". With such specifications in hand, the taxicab industry is then able to negotiate with shield manufacturers in confidence as their own initiative.

I strongly suggest someone in your office visit the InterNet "Taxicab Web Site" I maintain for the taxicab industry: http://www.freenet.mb.ca/taxi Click on "significant documents", scroll through the list and download any of choice. I highly recommend "28 Tips for Taxi Driver Safety" by Gord Barton. Print it into a small shirt pocket booklet and give one to every taxi driver in the city, preferably as they attend a 4-day training program such as that attached, conducted by Gord Barton, a retired Winnipeg City Police officer.

I would be very pleased to learn the outcome of the meeting tomorrow, and future progress. Perhaps the Minutes could be posted on the City of London Home Page. If I might possibly be of some additional assistance, do not hesitate to ask.

Regards,

(signed)

Terry Smythe


Appendix 5

South Australia's Taxi Driver Training Safety Modules

Learning Outcome 4

Driver Safety and Security

Describe the way of recognising and dealing with difficult customers and identify dangerous and hazardous situations and maintain personal safety and security.

Assessment Criteria 4.1

List the various difficult customers a driver may encounter.

  • Runners
  • Aggressive customers
  • Violent and threatening customers
  • Drunks
  • Racist people
  • Sexist people

Assessment Criteria 4.2

List the situations which may lead to danger for the driver.

  • Time of day
  • Potentially dangerous locations
  • Security of cash

Assessment Criteria 4.3

List the legitimate reasons where a taxi driver rnay refuse a hiring (link with regulations).

Assessment Criteria 4.4

State some of the indicators which may establish that a person is a difficult or dangerous customer.

Assessment Criteria 4.5

Explain and demonstrate how to deal with the various difficult or dangerous customers.

  • tactics to employ which may diffuse the situation
  • asking for money up front from suspected runners - per regulations
  • considering personal safety
  • legal rights of customer and driver having customers sit in preferred positions in the vehide
  • locking of rear driver's side door
  • night driving with interior light on
  • making customer walk to the car
  • vehicle positioning for secluded area and street pickups
  • when is it safe to leave the taxi
  • dealing with alcohol and drug affected passengers
  • recognising behavior and conversation which may threaten personal safety

Assessment Criteria 4.6

Describe devices which may be used to enhance driver security.

  • safety screens
  • alarm systems
  • GPS
  • Cameras and video surveillance

Assessment Criteria 4.7

Describe the distress codes used by the taxi industry (M13; S13) and explain their application and explain the methods for activating these codes and alarm devices.

Assessment Criteria 4.8

outline the actions which are undertaken once an alarm is activated.

Module Purpose:

To provide the trainee with the necessary knowledge to protect personal safety and security and to be able to act appropriately in dangerous or emergency situations.

Summary of Learning Outcomes:

Maintain and protect personal safety and describe ways of dealing with difficult passengers and dangerous situations.

Summary of Content:

  • Handling aggressive and difficult customers
  • Minimising risks
  • Time of day
  • Dangerous locations
  • Security of cash
  • Control in-vehicle environment
  • Communication and calming skills
  • Runners and fare evasion
  • Threatening situations
  • Sexual harassment aod racists
  • Assault and robbery
  • Alarm / security systems

Conditions and Resources:

  • OHTs
  • VIDEO: "It'll Be All Right On The Night"

Nominal Duration:

90 minutes

Assessment Method:

  • Role play
  • Objective test - verbal

Level of Competency:

The trainee must be abte to describe the various methods which may be used to protect personal safety and security in response to hypothetical situations and role play.

Learning Outcome 5

Customer Relations

Describe the ways of identifying and meeting/exceeding the demands of customers, and state the flow on effects for the taxi industry of providing value added service.

Assessment Criteria 5.1

Explain the requirements of vehicle appearance and the importance of having a clean vehicle with respect to customer service.

  • odour free
  • clean inside and out
  • no noise pollution

Assessment Criteria 5.2

Explain the requirements for personal appearance and the importance of personal cleanliness and preseotation with respect to customer service.

  • personal hygiene
  • neatness
  • uniform

Assessment Criteria 5.3

State the protocol for dealing and communicating with customers.

  • arrive punctually
  • summon customer in either, an appropriate, or, customer preferred manner
  • greet the customer
  • offer assistance with luggage and getting into taxi
  • establish destination
  • establish customer's preferred route - explain most direct, practical route if necessary
  • put on meter at appropriate time and record on work sheet
  • ensure customer comfort (music, air conditioning, heating, etc.,)
  • make ride smooth and comfortable
  • assist with disembarkation at destination and ensure customer has all belongings
  • farewell customer courteousty
  • respect the confidentiality of the customer's comments and conversation

Assessment Criteria 5.4

Demonstrate appropriate conversation with customers.

  • Determine if the customer wishes to converse
  • listen attentively
  • ask appropriate questions
  • respect customer's opinions.
  • drivers not to enforce their opinions on customers

Assessment Criteria 5.5

Demonstrate appropriate way of dealing with customer complaints to diffuse potentially difficult situations.

Assessment Criteria 5.6

Rate the personal and taxi industry benefits of providing customer satisfaction.

Assessment Criteria 5.7

Examine main customer groups listed and their specific needs and expectations.

  • Business people
  • Women (issue of safety to be included)

Module Purpose:

To provide the trainee with the necessary knowledge and awareness so as to deliver value added service to all customers and to identify with the needs of customers with respect to repeat business.

Summag of Learning Outcomes:

Maintain and increase market share of customers for the taxi industry through the provision of superior service and value for money for the consumer and, to apply appropriate skills to provide the customer with a safe, courteous and comfortable ride.

Summary of Content:

  • Creating first impressions
  • Value added service
  • Repeat business
  • Incressed income (tips) and market share
  • Industry and CSS ambassador
  • Attitude
  • Appearance - self and taxi
  • Punctuality
  • Greetings
  • Customer assistance
  • Driving skills and road craft
  • Knowtedge
  • Customer needs
  • Use of the meter
  • Customer comfort
  • Fare collection and change .
  • Assisting the customer - loading and unloading
  • Respect confidentiality
  • Avoiding conflict
  • Thanking for custom

Conditions and Resources:

  • OHTs
  • Handouts
  • VIDEO: "I Did It My Way"

Nominal Duration:

90 minutes

Assessment Method:

Written assessment

Level of Competency:

80% correct answers

Learning Outcome 8

Driver Health & Stress Management

Describe methods that may be used to ensure both heatth and well being while working and explain the importance for the driver to use these methods.

Assessmeat Criteria 8.1

Outline strategies for using time effectively.

  • taking full advantage of location with respect to picking up fares
  • using vacant time productively to study UBD, planning possible fares and relaxation

Assessment Chteria 8.2

Describe some of the ways to relax whilst working.

  • revise safe driving practice
  • taking a positive outlook employing relaxation techniques that work for the individual
  • reducing or giving up smoking and alcohol intake

Assessment Criteria 8.3

Describe diet, need for exercise, rest and planned breaks a driver must get to maintain health and well being.

  • type of foods consumed contribute to fatigue
  • shift work/long hours
  • posture and ways to get exercise on the job
  • weather conditions contribute to fatigue
  • fatigue and reaction times

Assessment Criteria 8.4

Explain how passenger attitude can contribute to stress and how driver attitude can influence the customer's mood.

  • reasons why customers catch taxis
  • personal problems influence driver and customer attitudes
  • maintaining an emotional distance between driver and customer
  • safeguarding against harassment

Aesessment Criteria 8.5

Explain the importance of a clean work environment with respect to reducing stress.

Assessment Criteria 8.6

Explain the need to access counseling services as a means of overcoming problems which may contribute to stress.

Assessment Criteria 8.7

Explain how taxi drivers are exposed to skin cancer and methods of protection.

Module Purpose:

To provide the trainee with the knowledge, skills and attitude required to deal professionally with the stresses associated with taxi driving.

Summacy of Leaming Outcomes:

The trainee will be able to describe methods that may be used to ensure health and well being while working and what action to take to remedy hazardous and/or stressful situations.

Summary of Content

  • planning work
  • productive use of down time
  • safe driving practices
  • positive outlook
  • relaxation techniques
  • smoking, alcohol and drugs
  • shift work
  • clean work environment
  • posture and exercise
  • diet
  • what contributes to fatigue
  • passenger attitudes
  • personal problems
  • skin cancer
  • counseling services

Conditions and Resources:

  • OHTs
  • VIDEO: "By His Own Hand"

Nominal Duration:

90 minutes

Assessment Method:

The trainee will be able to complete a viable personal plan oo how personal health and well being will be maintained on the job.

Level af Competency:

The trainee will be able to identify the factors contributing to stress and poor health whilst driving taxis given hypothetical scenario situations.


Appendix 6

1996

MANDATORY TAXI DRIVER TRAINING

COURSE OUTLINE

  1. Overview
    • 4 day course, various days, as available
    • 8:30 Am to 4:30 PM daily
    • Two 15 minute breaks, 45 minutes for lunch
    • 3 1/2 days classroom instruction (20 hours in 90 minute increments)
    • 1/2 day for examination
    • Emphasis on application, not recitation
    • Course outline
    • Students must supply new 4th edition Sherlock map book.
    • Students must bring note paper & pens, etc.

    Day 1 (am)

  2. Introduction
    • Instructor welcome, biography
    • Course Objectives & Outline
    • Housekeeping rules
    • Most Dangerous Job in Workplace
    • Video "Rescue 911 -Taxi "
  3. Winnipeg's Taxicab Industry
    • History
    • Part of Service Industries
    • Transportation Mix
    • Standard and Accessible
    • Current Situation Companies - Independents
  4. Legislation & Regulations
    • Taxicab Act
    • Consolidated Regulations
    • Taxicab Board
    • Regulatory Processes
    • Administrative Processes
    • Complaints Administration
    • Show Cause Hearings
    • Liquor and Taxi's - Regulations of same
    • Highway Traffic Act - seat belts regulations of same
  5. Taxicab as a Business
    • Small Business Defined
    • Licenses & Street Value
    • Customer Dependence
    • Record Keeping
    • Fares, Payments, Credit Cards
    • Cash Control
    • GST requirements

    Day 1 (PM)

  6. Transportation of Disabled Passengers
    • Types of Disabilities
    • Care of "Special Needs Persons"
    • Blind Passengers
    • Seeing Eye/Hearing Ear Guide Dogs
    • Guiding sight disabled - hands on demo
    • Wheelchair Demo - practical hands on
    • Deaf Passengers
    • Videos
      • "Person to Person"
      • "Wheelchair Handling Techniques"
      • "Transportation of the Disabled".

    Day 2 (am/pm)

  7. Customer Service Excellence
    • Service Industries Mix
    • Taxi Industry is a Service Industry
    • Total Service Concept
    • Understanding your Customer
    • Customer Relationships & Service Skills
    • Vehicle Maintenance & Appearance
    • Driver Deportment, Appearance & Maintenance
    • Most Direct Routes
    • Going the Extra Mile
    • Image & Status
    • Videos
      • "View From The Back"
      • "Honest Cab Drivers"
      • "Tony the Chauffeur"

    Day 3 (am/pm)

  8. Winnipeg Geography
    • Video's "Winnipeg - A Great City" , "Manitoba - An Adventure in Nature"
    • Winnipeg , the street systems layout and pattern
    • Major Routes
    • Major Districts
    • Major Hospitals & Medical Centres
    • Major Hotels, Restaurants & Night Clubs
    • Winnipeg Features and Attractions
    • International Airport
    • Bus Depot
    • Railway Station
    • Map reading (Arrow & Sherlock), group and individual exercises

    Day 4 (am)

  9. Taxi Driver Safety
    • Risks
    • Crisis Management
    • Minimizing Crisis Situations
    • Safety Devices
    • Weapons
    • Police relations
    • Must know information for taxi drivers
    • Hostility \ Negativeness
    • Videos - "Edmonton Driver Safety" , Boston "Driver Safety"

    Total Classroom Time 1680 mins

    (28 hours)

    Day 4 (PM)

  10. Examination
    • Computerized examinations
    • 70 questions, 100 marks total - pass mark of 75% required
    • 55 multiple choice questions, 15 "most direct route" questions
    • Each exam is uniquely different, with randomized questions and answers
    • 4 hours, open book exam
    • Maps and phone books, Taxicab Regulation Book, handouts allowed
    • No talking with anyone except instructor during examination
    • No leaving room until finished, early leaving = no return
    • Examinations must all be returned before leaving
    • Marks available early in following week

Total Course Time 1920 mins
(32 hours)

Conducted by:

Gordon M. Barton, Taxicab Instructor
Excel Resources & Training
Cedar Lake Road,Box 890, RR1, Anola,
MB, Canada, R0E 0A0
Ph: 204-866-2668
Fax: 204-866-3657
E-mail: barton @mts.net



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