Manitoba


Taxicab Safety Issues


An Independent Report by:

Bidhu Jha

October 2001


                                                  TABLE OF CONTENTS                                                 PAGE       

 

 

 

1.         Letter to the Minister                ………………………………………………….       2         

 

2.                  Preface             ………………………………………………………………….       3

 

3.         Executive Summary ……………………………………………………………         4

 

4.         Introduction                  ………………………………………………………….       11

 

5.         Taxicab Industry           ………………………………………………………..…      13

 

6.         Commission’s Approach and Methods  ………………………………………..…       15

 

7.                  The Problem     ………………………………………………………………….       16

 

8.                  Basic Safety Issues       ………………………………………………………….       19

 

9.         Recommendations        ………………………………………………………….       21

 

10.        Details on Mandatory Action Plan         ………………………………………….       21

 

11.        Detailed Voluntary Action Plan ………………………………………………….       26

 

12.        Summarized Safety Options Matrix       ………………………………………….       28

 

13.        Public Policy Options                ………………………………………………….       30

 

14.        Conclusions      ………………………………………………………………….       31

 

15.              Survey Results ………………………………………………………………….       32

 

16.       Appendices & List of Attachments        ………………………………………..          38

 

 

 

 


Manitoba                                         

 

 

Bidhu S. Jha

9 Paradise Bay

Winnipeg MB  R3R 1L2

Phone: Home: 895-9430

Cell: 228-4687

Fax: 895-9912

 

11 November, 2001

 

 

The Honourable Steve Ashton

Minister of Transportation and Government Services

Room 203 Legislative Building

Winnipeg MB  R3C 0V8

 

 

Dear Minister Ashton:

 

 

I am pleased to submit herewith an independent Report on the Study of Taxicab Safety Issues and a proposed Action Plan to enhance safety for taxicab operators in Manitoba.

 

The study primarily focussed on the fundamental issues of driver safety with regards to taxicab drivers in the City of Winnipeg.  However, the report also addresses the concerns for safety of taxicab drivers in rural Manitoba.

 

I hope the recommendations contained herein will meet with your approval.  This report includes the survey results and some information on products and available communication systems for taxicab driver safety.

 

Respectfully submitted,

 

 

 

 

Bidhu S. Jha

Chairperson

Taxicab Safety Working Group

 

 


PREFACE

 

 

THIS REPORT IS PREPARED FOR SUBMISSION TO THE HONOURABLE STEVE
ASHTON, MINISTER OF TRANSPORTATION AND GOVERNMENT SERVICES.

 

 

In preparation of this report, for the past eight weeks, I have worked extensively with the taxicab industry, taxicab drivers, ex-victims, public and several government officials.  I wish to thank all those who have helped me in completing this report.

 

It has been a challenging task to gather all the information, reports, and studies.  I have also had the opportunity of viewing and analyzing several videotapes on this issue.

 

Over 32,000 Canadians work in this Country as taxicab drivers.  Over 1500 men and women have licenses to drive taxicabs in the City of Winnipeg alone.  If this report and its recommendations can save a human life, I would feel this to be a worthy work.

 

Several people have helped me in preparation of this report.  I must however firstly thank my wife Rajeshwari Jha for her cooperation and courtesy in providing our home to hold certain and necessary meetings.  

 

I also thank Mr. Sukhwinder Dhaliwal, and Mr. Mohinder Gundhu, both driver representatives, for their full co-operation and sharing of information and their time.

 

Needless to say, I would like to thank Gordon Barton, who has given his overwhelming support by providing all research material, together with his findings.

 

Last, but not least, are the people who have worked hard in the preparation and presentation of the report.   I thank Angela Savoie, Administrative Assistant to the Assistant Deputy Minister, Property Management, Manitoba Government Services for all her help in completing this report and Shannon McNaughton, Administrative Secretary, Property Management, Manitoba Government Services for tabulating over 375 survey replies comprising 18 questions each.

 

I also very sincerely thank Minister Ashton for allowing me a free hand to complete this report independently.

 

 

 

 

Bidhu Jha

October 5, 2001

 

 

 


EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

 

 

On August 1, 2001, the Honourable Steve Ashton, Minister of Transportation and Government Services, Government of Manitoba, appointed Mr. Bidhu Jha to head a Commission to undertake the task of consulting and examining options for improvement of taxicab drivers’ safety and to recommend a Safety Action Plan (SAP) for taxicab drivers in Manitoba.

 

Mr. Gordon Barton, an experienced and knowledgeable ex-police officer, and past training consultant for the Manitoba Taxicab Board, was assigned to work as a resource person to Mr. Jha to provide research services for the Taxicab Driver Safety Study.  Two experienced taxicab drivers representing all Winnipeg taxi companies were also available as consultants and participants of the working group, due to their understanding of issues faced by taxicab drivers.  Several meetings to understand this fundamental issue were held with Gordon Barton, Mr. John Mann, the representative from The Motor Transport and Highway Traffic Board, Government of Manitoba.

 

 

The MANDATE of the Commission was:

 

Ÿ         to investigate the safety issues related to assaults on taxicab drivers and establish factors that contribute to the incidents of physical harm of taxicab drivers, including death.

 

Ÿ         to make recommendations to the Government of Manitoba to undertake specific actions with the prime objective of improving taxicab drivers' safety.

 

 

BACKGROUND

 

“I can write a book on what happened to me for the past seven years.  The verbal abuse, racial comments, the assault and all kinds of stuff”, wrote a taxicab driver commenting on the Commission’s survey form which he submitted on September 29, 2001.

 

Five taxicab drivers have been murdered during the last 10 years in the City of Winnipeg, the latest being Pritam Deol, a 52 year old taxicab driver who was murdered while on duty in July, 2001.  Several physical assaults happened immediately following this major tragic event.

 

For the Commission’s prime objective, this study has been conducted mainly in the City of Winnipeg, where the number of assaults on taxicab drivers has created a great deal of concern amongst drivers and the industry.

 

The Manitoba taxi industry includes major cities throughout the Province.  The largest number of taxis operate in the City of Winnipeg, followed by the Cities of Brandon, Thompson, The Pas, and Dauphin.  

 

The Winnipeg taxi industry is rightfully concerned about all crimes and assaults against taxicab drivers in this City.  “There may not be any cabs available to people past midnight if this does not stop,” said one of the taxicab owners.  Drivers feel vulnerable and afraid, and have requested the Taxicab Board’s help to “do something” to prevent robberies and physical assaults resulting in injuries and in the most extreme cases, death.

 

The Taxicab Board has no records of ethnicity of Winnipeg’s licenced drivers; however, it is estimated that more than 80% of all drivers are of colour, i.e. non-white.  There are 1541 licenced taxicab drivers registered with the Taxicab Board.  There are seven taxi companies operating in the City of Winnipeg.  Collectively, there are 493 vehicles licenced, including 42 vehicles owned by Limousine companies.

 

Between September 8th, 1996 and September 2, 1998, a total of SEVENTY-TWO (72) taxicab robberies were officially reported.   Between September 3, 1998 and September 2, 2001, there were several robberies, physical injuries and one murder in the City of Winnipeg involving taxicab drivers.  These are only the reported incidentsThere are no present statistics available from the City of Winnipeg Police on assaults on taxicab drivers or this industry.

 

The commission strongly believes that the vast majority of incidents (robberies and minor injuries) were not reported to police and cannot therefore be taken into account.  Hence, the known statistics may not reflect the actual seriousness of the situation.

 

 

COMMISSION'S APPROACH AND METHODS

 

 

The Commission has, during the past eight weeks or so, consulted with the taxicab industry, driver representatives, individual drivers, ex-victims, taxicab owners, police officials, the Taxicab Board, Department of Transportation and Government Services, (Policy, Planning and Development Division), and manufacturers of safety equipment and advanced communication systems for taxicab vehicles.

 

Questionnaires were mailed to 1,541 taxicab drivers and owners/managers in the City of Winnipeg, in order to include their personal and professional responses, suggestions and comments for developing and implementing safety recommendations in the months ahead.  A number of these questionnaires were also distributed to taxicab drivers in Brandon, Thompson and Dauphin.

 

The commission has carefully reviewed the following previous reports on the same issue by committees appointed by the Government of Manitoba:

 

1.         Fox-Decent Report on Taxicab Driver Safety, submitted to the Minister of Environment and Workplace Safety and Health in February, 1987.

 

2.         A Study of the Winnipeg Taxicab Industry and Related Problem Areas by Touche Ross Management Consultants submitted to the Taxicab Board on June 2nd, 1988.

 

3.         Manitoba Taxicab Board Report and Recommendations on Taxicab Safety Shield submitted to the then Minister of Highways and Transportation in February 1990 by the Safety Shields Task Force.

 

4.         Taxi Driver Safety Survey 1991 Summary of Comments.

 

5.                  Several internal studies and reports on Taxi Shields during the year 1990 under the Taxicab Board’s direction.

 

In addition, the commission also studied, reviewed and analyzed several subsequent reports on this subject.

 

 

BASIC SAFETY ISSUES AND CONTRIBUTORY FACTORS:

 

"Taxicab driving is “The Most Dangerous Job” as stated by Occupational Safety and Health Administration, USA.   Taxi driving today faces the highest homicide rate of any profession in the USA.

 

“Taxi drivers are a highly victimized occupational group in Canada.  Overall, their victimization while at work may be as high as twenty times that of Canadians generally”

 

(Report by Dr. Stenning, University of Toronto)

 

The primary risks faced by most taxicab drivers in Manitoba include:

 

1.         Physical Assaults (including injuries causing death).

 

2.         Robberies.

 

3.                  Racial/discriminatory treatment resulting in psychological and emotional harm (fatigue, high blood pressure, stress, etc).

 

            4.         Traffic Accidents

 

            Added to these risks are the following factors:

 

Ÿ         Lack of proper training

 

Ÿ         Inadequate systems for reporting incidents to proper authorities

 

Ÿ         Absorbing personal threats thereby creating psychological stress

 

Ÿ         Insecurities regarding personal safety.

 

 

 

PRESENT DISPATCH & TRACKING SYSTEM

 

 

Ÿ         There are no standards set by the regulatory body for taxi companies, relating to their dispatch and driver tracking system.

 

Ÿ         Only two of the largest taxi companies in Winnipeg use computerized dispatch systems and are connected with a global positioning system (GPS), with the remaining companies using two-way radio dispatch systems and/or wireless cell phones to communicate and operate.

 

 

RECOMMENDATIONS

 

 

The Commission recommends the following to the Minister of Transportation and Government Services for the Government of Manitoba to approve and act upon:

 

1.                  Implement the Mandatory Action Plan as recommended in this report and review the Voluntary Action Plan with an objective to implementation of the same.

 

2.                  The Taxicab Act to include driver safety as a part of The Act.

 

3.                  Amend or change the Taxicab Board’s role to be pro-active as suggested in this report.

 

4.                  Implement the 1990 rule on safety shields with some amendments to incorporate a new design.

 

5.                  Establish an Implementation Committee to fully complete the acceptable recommendations by the Minister as soon as is feasible.   

 

 

1.         RECOMMENDED MANDATORY ACTION PLAN

 

1.1       Extensive mandatory training and upgraded technology appreciation programs for new drivers and dispatchers, by qualified and committed trainers.

 

1.2       Installation of Safety Shields suitable for Manitoba climates.  A new design may be required to be developed for optimum cost value.

 

1.3       Installation of cameras to photograph would-be assailants.  Many options are available.

 

1.4       Silent emergency distress alarm system to be incorporated in the taxicab for sending signals indicating life-threatening situations.

 

1.5       Community programs to be developed to promote the enhancement of race-relations, as well as public education campaigns to promote awareness and appreciation of the taxi industry's contribution in providing services to public. 

 

1.6       First-aid kits to be available in each vehicle.   

 

1.7              Protocol with police.  Owners & police to identify high-crime locations and to develop a mutually acceptable crisis management system with a clear understanding of each other’s concerns and limitations.

 

1.8              The recommendation of “TAXI HEALTH SAFETY AND PREVENTION TRUST FUND” has been made with a clear objective to create additional revenue by adding $0.25 (twenty-five Cents) in the “DROP CHARGE” for each trip.  Current drop charge rate of $2.70 in Winnipeg should be increased to $2.95.  This additional revenue should be collected by a government agency and managed by the proposed Trust Fund.

 

 

2.         RECOMMENDED KEY POINTS OF VOLUNTARY ACTION PLAN

 

2.1       Installation of the latest technologically advanced tracking system with all dispatching groups (compatible to Global Positioning System [GPS]), and the development of “codes” as silent messages sent to dispatch centres by taxicab drivers in distress.

 

2.2       Encourage introduction of pre-payment of taxi fares after 8 p.m., particularly from bus terminals, railway stations and airports.  Promote the use of credit/debit cards wherever possible to reduce the cash available in taxicabs at anytime.

 

2.3       A policy should be implemented by each taxi company to train their drivers how to handle fare disputes, and on the use of cash management systems.

 

2.4       Establish a Taxicab Safety Implementation Committee and install programs like TOPs (Taxis on Patrol) as implemented in Halifax, to encourage more community interactive programs and activities.

 

2.5       Each driver to have a cell phone featuring programmed messages, when two-way radios fail.  Use of cell phone to be regulated to restrict use while driving and not contrary to “Code of Conduct” as defined.

 

2.6       Driver-controlled trunk locks.

 

2.7              Taxicab Board to take a more pro-active role in monitoring regulatory and voluntary programs, as well as the development of a code of conduct for their licenced drivers. 

The Board should initiate a public relations program and interact with cab drivers on social and cultural aspects with police and other social services groups.

 

            2.8        Drivers should have access to the records of incidents in areas in the city that could be high-risk

 

2.9              Institute a special bureau to facilitate and implement taxi driver safety initiatives which must include police.  Programs such as "Partners in Prevention" and "Minimum Tolerance Strategy Against Crimes" should be implemented, while working with all stakeholders

 

 

 

FINANCIAL ANALYSIS AND COST OF MANDATORY SAFETY EQUIPMENT

 

 

The following financial analysis is based on approximate capital costs for acquisition of safety shields and cameras only.  The cost of distress buttons to send silent personal alarms to dispatch has not been included due to the fact that there is no universal dispatch and tracking system used by all taxi companies.

 

Ÿ         The initial cost of acquiring suitably designed safety shields should be targeted at approximately $1,500 to $2,000 (see details on the section on Safety Shields).[B-1]

 

Ÿ         The initial cost of digital cameras should cost between $1,000 to $1,500.  Ideally, these cameras should be able to transmit images digitally to another location, e.g. a central dispatch centre or alarm company (see details on the section on Cameras).[B-2]

 

Ÿ         The total estimated cost of the above safety equipment should not be more than approximately $4,000 for each vehicle.

 

Ÿ         Based on interest costs of current prime rate +2%, at an annual amortized cost of $1,650 per year, it is estimated that this cost may be fully repaid in three years (see details on the section on Costs & Demand Elasticity).[E-2]

 

Ÿ         Based on an average annual number of trips per taxicab to be only 8,000 trips/year, the increase of $0.25 drop charge per trip would generate annual revenues of $2,000 for each taxicab within the City of Winnipeg.  These figures are taken from current data, which need a detailed and audited review. 

 

·        There is no formal study on the effect of such an incremental fare increase on their demand and generation of revenue.  The comments (see Annex E-1) provided by the Transportation Policy Planning and Development Division of the Government of Manitoba suggests the impact to be minimal. 

 

     “If the Winnipeg taxicab market has elastic demand, the task of calculating fare increases to cover increased costs is more complex than outlined elsewhere in the report, where increased costs are assumed to be offset by a fare increase.  This would provide additional revenue equal to about twice the amount of increased costs (since about half of any additional revenue is absorbed in increased driving costs).  The implicit assumption is that demand is perfectly inelastic, i.e. that the demand for taxicab service is not affected by changes in the fare.”

 

“It would appear to be safe to assume that the demand for taxicab rides is relatively price inelastic; an increase in the fare structure is unlikely to have a major impact upon demand given that the industry provides an “essential” service to a limited market.”

 

Therefore, this small incremental drop charge of 0.25c should be well within the scope of prevailing taxi fare rates.

 

The above cost analysis may not apply for taxis operating in other Manitoba cities and towns.

 

 

FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT OF THE PROPOSED TRUST FUND

 

It is recommended that the above-mentioned “TAXI HEALTH, SAFETY & PREVENTION TRUST FUND” be used to provide all necessary equipment and tools for the drivers’ safety while on duty.

 

Any residue from the proceeds of this trust fund annually may be used for the development and promotion of more social awareness programs such as such as “Drivers’ Training Excellence”, etc.

 

The programs would promote harmony among all citizens of our society and recognize the importance of this industry.  This special fund may be called “Pritam Deol Fund for Driving Excellence and Social Awareness”  (only a suggestion, to be reviewed by a joint committee of taxicab companies, Taxicab Board and Government representatives).

 

The management of this Trust Fund should be assigned to a joint committee comprised of representatives from taxicab companies, driver representatives and government representatives.  This fund should, in future, initiate innovative projects to make the taxicab industry thrive on all fronts. 

 

 


 


INTRODUCTION

 

In the past 10 years there have been a series of robberies, physical assaults and murders of taxicab drivers in the City of Winnipeg alone.  There have been five murders of taxicab drivers in other cities/towns in Manitoba during the past ten years. 

 

In July 2001, the murder of the latest victim, Pritam Deol (52 years old), caused serious concerns in the minds of hundreds of taxicab drivers, particularly in the City of Winnipeg.    They are demanding firm action by the Government to protect their lives. 

 

The Honourable Steve Ashton, Minister of Transportation and Government Services, appointed Mr. Bidhu Jha to head a commission to undertake the task of consulting and examining options for improvement of taxicab drivers’ safety and to recommend a Safety Action Plan (SAP) for taxicab drivers in Manitoba.  The ultimate objective of this report is to help to determine what measures should be taken to improve safety and protect the lives of our taxicab drivers while on duty.

 

This report is based on extensive consultations with various stakeholders and reviews of previous studies by consultants and authorities in Manitoba on the same issue.  In consultation with the taxicab industry, driver representatives, individual drivers, public taxicab owners, police officials, Taxicab Board members, Manitoba’s Transportation Board Members, ex-victims of taxicab assaults, manufacturers of safety equipment, technologists on advanced wireless communication systems for policing and mobile tracking, and officials of the Ministry of Transportation and Government Services, the Commission has established its own findings and recommendations. 

 

Questionnaires were mailed to 1,541 licenced taxicab drivers in the City of Winnipeg in order to acquire their personal and professional responses/suggestions/comments for developing and implementing safety recommendations in the months ahead.  A number of questionnaires were also couriered to Brandon, Thompson, and Dauphin for distribution amongst local drivers.  At the same time, questionnaires were also sent to taxi companies’ owners/managers to get their own perspectives and response on this issue. 

 

The commission has carefully reviewed the following previous reports on the same issue by committees appointed by the Government of Manitoba:

 

1.         Fox-Decent Report on Taxicab Driver Safety, submitted to the Minister of Environment and Workplace Safety and Health in February, 1987.

 

2.         A Study of the Winnipeg Taxicab Industry and Related Problems Areas by Touche Ross Management Consultants submitted to the Taxicab Board on June 2nd, 1988.

 

3.                  Manitoba Taxicab Board Report and Recommendations on Taxicab Safety Shield submitted to the Minister of Highways and Transportation in February, 1990 by the Safety Shields Task Force.

 

4.         Taxi Driver Safety Survey 1991 Summary of Comments.

 

5.         Several internal studies and reports on Taxi Shields during the year 1990 under the Taxicab Board’s direction.

 

In addition, the commission also studied, reviewed and analyzed several subsequent reports on this subject.  As stated in the Executive Summary, the following studies/reports were of considerable value to the commission in the deliberations for recommendations to the Minister:

 

1.         Report of a Preliminary Study entitled “FARE GAME, FARE COP” (victims of and policing by taxicab drivers in three Canadian cities by Dr. Philip C. Stemmomg (1996).

 

2.         Taxi Safety Initiative Study by Transport Systems Centre, in association with Symonds Travis Morgan Consultants at the University of South Australia dated March 27, 1997.

 

3.         The Effectiveness of Taxi Partitions: The Baltimore Case, prepared for the Southeastern Transportation Centre, University of Tennessee, Knoxville by John R. Stone and Dan Stevens, Department of Civil Engineering, North Carolina State University of Raleigh, dated June 1999.

 

4.         “She’s No Lady: The Experience of Expression of Gender among Women Taxi Drivers”, a thesis submitted for Masters of Arts Degree at Saint Mary’s University, Halifax, Nova Scotia on April 18, 1997.

 

5.         A Report on Taxi Driver Safety for the NSW: Department of Transport in Australia, December, 1995.

 

6.         Rules and Regulations for Public Chauffeurs for the City of Chicago, published November 1995 by Commissioner of Consumer Services. 

 

7.         Taxi Driver Safety Summit and Workshop: Summary and Outcomes in Perth, Western Australia, April 1996.

 

This report does not include recommendations towards the selection of specific equipment and systems.  Some detail work is required to select suitably designed shields and in-cab cameras.  The implementation committee must obtain trials of the equipment in proper settings.  Thereafter, they should establish criteria and specifications to select the equipment.

 

 

 

 

TAXICAB INDUSTRY

 

The Taxicab Industry is a vital element in most urban infrastructures for a variety of reasons.  Taxicabs are the basic form of urban transportation accessible 24 hours a day, available by phone call without much difficulty. 

 

The customer has the choice of calling for this service at their discretion and choosing the points of pick-up and destination.  While users of taxicab services may or may not deeply appreciate this great opportunity and take it for granted, it is to be understood that this highly important industry is undoubtedly a profit making business, but it also serves society by providing personalized services to elderly and handicapped customers.  It contributes significantly in promoting tourism and serves visitors by providing flexible, affordable transportation services.  Taxicab drivers are often symbolized as “ambassadors” for their cities and are a source of information for the police service by offering their eyes and ears to report incidents and crimes while patrolling and driving through the streets of the City.

 

For these reasons, it is very important for any Government to understand that maintaining a healthy taxicab industry in urban centres and in other communities is a high priority for urban transportation and tourism policy matters. The absence of this industry, even for a short period of time, would contribute detrimentally to the economy and personal transportation needs of its citizens. 

 

The taxicab industry remains a very important aspect of economy and service to citizens in the Province of Manitoba

 

The Taxicab Industry in Manitoba is privately owned but regulated by The Taxicab Act under the Statutes of Manitoba.

 

There are seven registered taxicab companies in the City of Winnipeg.  The total number of vehicles operating under a Taxicab Business Licence in Winnipeg is 493, including 42 vehicles operating under Limousine Services.  The numbers for other cities/towns are as follows:

 

Brandon                      42                               

Thompson                   41

Selkirk                        16                               

Flin Flon                      16

The Pas                       15

Dauphin                        9

 

Taxicab business licences by category are shown in Table # 1. (ATTACHED)

 

The government authorities should review and improve the role of the Taxicab Board on issues of driver safety.   It is recommended that the Taxicab Board take more of a pro-active role on taxicab safety issues and develop better communication strategies with the stakeholders.

The Taxicab Act and the Taxicab Regulation promulgated pursuant to it, contain detailed provisions respecting the conduct of the industry, including provisions relating to taxicab driver safety. 

 

Among these are minimum requirements for license applications (including successful completion of a mandatory four-day training course for all new drivers); requirements for drivers to “present a clean, neat and well-groomed appearance” ; to “wear clothes that are clean, neat and appropriate for public service”; a requirement that “a driver shall be civil and courteous to a passenger and to prospective passengers” and other requirements concerning driver conduct; a requirement that taxis be maintained in “good working order and safe condition”, as well as “cleanliness and cosmetic requirements” for taxis.  Following the recommendation of a Task Force report on taxi driver safety in 1987, the Board now requires all taxis in the city to be equipped with a flashing roof-top light which can be activated from inside the cab in the event of an emergency situation involving risk of bodily harm to the driver. 

 

Day-to-day enforcement of these provisions of The Taxicab Act and regulations is the responsibility of inspectors appointed pursuant to The Act.  At present, there are only two inspectors, who operate two shifts between the hours of 7:00 a.m. and 10:00 p.m., Monday to Saturday.  There are three full-time positions and one-part time position for the Safety Inspector, however there are only two presently incumbents.  The Board has also taken the view that it does not have any regulatory jurisdiction over the dispatch companies, since it is the individual owner-operators and drivers who hold the licenses.  As a result, the Board cannot effectively institute a system of industry self-regulation under Board supervision which it claimed, would be a more realistic and effective alternative to substantially increasing the Board’s own enforcement resources.  The Board’s 1990 recommendations for changes in the law to facilitate such a system have never been implemented.  A Bill (Bill 24) which was introduced in 1993 as an amendment to The Taxicab Act, and which would have introduced provisions designed to achieve a measure of cost recovery for enforcement of The Act, was not passed, largely as a result of effective lobbying by a group from the taxi industry itself.

 

The Taxicab Act regulates the operation of taxicabs in the City of Winnipeg with regard to:

 

1.         Vehicle and equipment requirements and maintenance, where, in several sections, a requirement may be related to safety matters.

 

2.         Licence Holder Requirements, which include a code of conduct, including training and provision of Dispatch Service requirements.

 

3.         Fare Regulations.

 

The issuance of a taxi driver licence by theTaxicab Board is based on the applicant’s meeting a number of requirements set out by the Taxicab Board;  the criteria is as follows:

 

1.         Proof of a valid Class 4 Manitoba Driver Licence

2.         A signed application form from a Taxicab Company

3.         Driving record from Motor Vehicles Branch

4.         A character reference from the City of Winnipeg Police

5.         Completion of a medical examination report by a physician of the applicant’s choice

6.         Demonstrated knowledge of the location of hospitals in Winnipeg.

 

Workers Compensation Board coverage is compulsory in Manitoba for all taxicab operators.  It is also available for self-coverage by taxicab owners/operators employing no drivers.

 

Two other provincial authorities have jurisdiction over aspects of taxicab operations in the City of Winnipeg:

 

1.         The Department of Transportation and Government Services, Motor Vehicle Branch

2.         The Department of Labour, Workplace Safety and Health Division.

 

Taxicabs are classified as mobile workplaces and drivers as workers or self-employed persons under The Workplace Safety and Health Act.

 

The purpose of The Act is:

 

a.         To secure workers and self-employed persons from risks to their safety, health and welfare arising out of, or in connection with, activities in their workplace; and

 

b.         To protect other persons from risk in their safety and health arising out of, or in connection with, activities in workplaces.

 

By virtue of this authority, taxicabs are subject to The Act and its regulations, including Manitoba Regulation 173/84 Respecting Workers Working Alone.  In this regard, several taxicab drivers feel very unsafe without “distress alarms” and/or safety equipment in their vehicles to protect them when in danger.

 

Taxicab amended Regulation 31/2000 registered on March 27, 2000 has added the provision of safety shields as part of The Act, but has not been able to enforce its application.

 

COMMISSION'S APPROACH AND METHODS

 

Taking direct approach to establish and remedy the root causes of the problems has been the focus of the Commission’s objective.  Reviews of several studies have guided the commission to adopt the following methodology to prepare the report:

 

1.         Random direct interviews (face-to-face) with drivers, driver-selected representatives and ex-victims to understand their personal views and experiences.  This approach led to the development of a Questionnaire for general survey to all drivers to establish factors and elements of driver safety.  (Questionnaire enclosed annex “A-1, A-2”)

 

2.         Giving attention to preventative measures applicable in the local context and comparing them with the present systems in the industry resulted in establishing solution guidelines.

 

3.         Emphasising the options of adopting these preventative systems relating to their functions, costs, flexibility and applications led to exploration of many other alternatives in recommendations for drivers’ safety.

 

4.         Establishing the main issues into three categories led to the development of field research on a more direct basis.  The issues being:

 

a.         Protective Devices for taxicab driver safety (i.e. hardware and systems installed in the taxicab, such as shields, cameras, etc.  (Annex B-1, B-2)

 

b.         Better communication between taxicab drivers and the police and taxicab dispatch systems (i.e. technological communications systems to prevent crimes and save lives by prompt action).  (Annex C-1)

 

c.         Crime prevention, law enforcement and public safety issues (Attached articles analyzed for broader public and social awareness and preventative programs.) [Annex D-1]

 

5.         Field research was conducted through direct discussions, meetings, investigations of issue, analysis of previous study and recommendations in close consultation with various stakeholders during the past six weeks.

 

 

THE PROBLEM

 

Criminal victimization of taxicab drivers is a serious problem throughout several cities in Canada and the USA. Manitoba has also had its share of problems in the past several years.  In particular, during the past 10 years, there have been five murders in the City of Winnipeg.  Many drivers in the City are terrified, due to the most recent cold blooded murder of 52 year old Pritam Deol in July 2001.  Even after so much press release and publicity of this tragic event, several drivers have since been attacked.  Sanjeev Nagpaal, a 28-year-old Unicity Taxi driver was robbed at knifepoint on the evening of Tuesday, August 28, 2001. 

 

He was the second city taxi driver who reported a knife point robbery that week, just a few weeks after the latest murder.  There are many drivers who do not report incidents for many reasons.  “Had it not been for the promptness of other drivers, there could have been another fatality”, said one of the drivers during press interview after Nagpaal’s assault.

 

The occupation of taxi driver is considered very high-risk due to criminal victimization and the fact that drivers work alone.

 

 

 

 

 

There are many reasons for such crimes against taxicab drivers.  Several studies on this subject have been undertaken by Criminologists and Social Scientists. 

 

This report has not taken any detailed approach towards the socio-economic aspects of this issue and therefore does not elaborate on this aspect.

 

However, it is this Commission’s sad belief that “racism” has played an important role in most cases of victimization of taxicab drivers in the City of Winnipeg.  It is understood that when people call for a taxi, they have a particular purpose in mind.  Generally, this involves their own transportation needs. 

 

Most members of society have their individual concepts of what a taxi service is, or should be.  This stereotypic ideal includes the driver and his/her qualifications to perform the task of taking passengers to their destination.  The matching of a driver with this preconceived image gives would-be passengers the confidence, or lack of it, based on certain social biases.

 

In this City, as evidenced by calls received by taxi dispatch centres from some of the would-be passengers requesting not to send drivers of specific race or colour, racial biases are clearly established.

 

Of the seven registered taxicab companies in the City of Winnipeg, the largest two are Unicity Taxi and Duffy’s Taxi, followed by Spring Taxi.  There are no records of ethnicity/diversities of taxicab drivers at either the Taxicab Board or at individual taxi companies.  However, it is estimated that over 80% of drivers working for Unicity and Duffy’s are of East Indian, Asian and mid-eastern origins.  New immigrant drivers are not fully trained in “how to develop” inter-personal relationships and often do not have the linguistic skills to develop crime prevention techniques through communication. 

 

There are difficulties in assessing the extent of the problem related to racism and collection of statistical data.  Some of the relevant points are:

 

1.         The assaults on drivers are not always recorded as “racial incidents”, even though victims are mostly of the ethnic groups mentioned above.

 

2.         The obvious reluctance of drivers to report to the police as to what they see as “minor” incidents of assault.  Most of the drivers are shy of reporting verbal threats and name calling due to “wait around to make statements for what gains and benefit?” sentiments.

 

Relationship between Police and the Taxicab Industry in Winnipeg

 

Generally, Winnipeg taxicab drivers are concerned about priorities assigned by the police, as related to their problems.   A fear of being left alone, while waiting for action by the police, is a common complaint by taxicab drivers.  There is no evidence or statistical data to either prove or deny the above-perceived knowledge. 

Police authorities in Winnipeg, on the other hand, follow their own system of attending to “calls” and assign priorities according to their own policies.

 

In the case of taxicab drivers’, assaults and victimization are not always reported to either the taxi companies or police, primarily due to their impressions that:

 

a.         They do not consider the numerous minor incidents serious enough to warrant being reported (for fear of being considered incompetent or weak).

 

b.         Drivers in most cases believe that the police, if called, could not be of much help and would be unable to do anything useful, including trying to even locate the offenders and charge them.

 

c.         The length of time spent reporting all information to the police may be extensive and create further loss of business and income.

 

As a result, police statistics on taxicab victimization in the City of Winnipeg do not constitute a reliable measure of the extent of these assaults.  It is therefore difficult to establish an effective policy response by them.

 

With regard to the improving the relationship between the City of Winnipeg Police and the taxicab industry, it should be noted that a Standing Policy Committee on Protection and Community Services, City of Winnipeg, met on Tuesday, November 17, 1998.  Included on the agenda was  “A Statistical Profile of the Taxicab Driver Assaults in the City of Winnipeg”, File GF-2 (Vol.50).

 

The paper attached in Annex “E-1” displays the agenda on issues of Police Services (Agenda #2) as “A Statistical Profile of Taxicab Drivers Assaults in the City of Winnipeg” states the reason to be: 

 

“Due to concerns that there may be a large number of taxicab driver assaults in the City of Winnipeg and that these assaults were racially motivated, Councillor Glen Murray asked the Standing Policy Committee on Protection and Community Services to study the issues. 

As a result, on August 24, 1998, the Committee requested that the Winnipeg Police Service prepare a statistical profile of taxicab driver assaults in the City of Winnipeg, and that said report be prepared in conjunction with the Taxicab Board and the Race Relations Committee.  Further that the report identify types of policing strategies that may be implemented including types of profiles and precautions taken in other cities”.

 

To the best of the knowledge of this Commission, there have not been any substantial actions undertaken to address these issues.

 

In this regard, it is important to refer to this important paragraph in the Technical Report published in 1996 by the Centre of Criminology, University of Toronto, authorised by Dr. Philip C. Stenning . . .

 

 

 

“Taxi driver safety is a serious and important problem which can only be properly understood and responded to within the wider context of community safety more generally.  The idea - which implicitly or explicitly suffuses so much of the current training materials on this issue - that the key to addressing this problem lies in self-improvement and self-regulation of his or her conduct by the taxi driver himself or herself, may be quite misleading and is certainly questionable. 

For while there are probably things that taxi drivers can do to reduce their risks of being victimized, the truth unfortunately seems to be that society still does not know much about what is both effective and realistic in this regard, and it seems likely that much victimization of taxi drivers lies outside the capacity of taxi drivers themselves, or of the taxi industry as it is currently structured, to effectively control or prevent.

 

Ways undoubtedly need to be found to encourage the taxi industry as a whole to take greater collective responsibility for addressing this problem, and for developing the kinds of partnerships with other community participants (including, but certainly not limited to, the police) which will be essential to addressing it successfully.  In doing so, the industry may well find that its own role in contributing to the safety and security of others in the community can also be significantly enhanced. 

 

This, of course, is not a novel proposition, or one which is in any sense peculiar to the taxi industry (although this industry does seem to face a particular challenge in finding a collective voice about almost anything which affects it).  Rather, the notion that safety and security can most effectively be achieved through collective community action and partnerships is one which has gradually become the accepted wisdom during the last decades of this century, in North America and elsewhere.”

 

The above comments may be valid in the general context of Police and Taxicab relationships.  However, the Taxicab industry in Winnipeg with the majority of drivers coming from “non-white” communities is faced with the challenge of negotiating with government authorities to develop an innovative approach of communication and interaction between them.

 

As first generation immigrants, the majority of drivers operate with a sense of insecurity and do not like to be seen as troublemakers in the eyes of the police.  They avoid interaction with the police and the reporting of incidents.  This must change.

 

BASIC SAFETY ISSUES

 

A taxicab is a mobile workplace and the driver is a classified worker, working alone as stated in Manitoba’s Workplace Safety and Health Act Regulation 173/84.

 

The job of taxicab driving is a high-risk and dangerous occupation.  This industry ranks highest for homicides and assaults according to The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (USA).

 

In the Manitoba context, the following assessments of risk are associated with taxicab drivers:

 

A)                Risks faced by taxicab drivers on duty, include:

 

1.                  Physical assaults, injuries and deaths by acts of violence and the use of weapons.

2.                  Robbery and refusals to pay fares (resulting in financial losses, creating stress).

3.                  Racial/discriminatory treatment and verbal threats (resulting in emotional fatigue, high blood pressure and depression).

4.                  Traffic accidents due to reason stated above, and otherwise.

 

B)                 Minimise the extent of these risks by:

 

1.                  Implementation of recommendations submitted with this report.

 

2.                  Provision of regulatory changes in The Taxicab Act and legislative enforcement of safety equipment in taxicabs.

 

In this regard, in the opinion of the author of this report, there are several options to consider.  Analytical studies of several relevant papers on this issue suggest the approach taken by John Stone (Department of Civil Engineering, North Carolina State University, North Carolina 2769555-7908) to be the right one.

 

During his speech to the Taxi Driver Security Conference held in Montreal on December 3, 1996, he divided these options into three categories:

 

1.                  Proactive

2.                  Preventative

3.                  Reactive

 

The following table summarizes these options:

 

 

Non-technological
Technological
Pro-active

·         Removing cash from the cab

·         Public education

·         Community Awareness and vigilance

 

Preventative

·         Safety training & re-training

·         Rank supervision

·         Dispatcher call-backs

·         Protective safety shields

·         Operator controlled door locks

Reactive

·         Rewards

·         Taxis on Patrol

·         Alarm systems

·         Duress alarms

·         In-vehicle video surveillance

·         Vehicle Tracking Systems (Global Positioning System)

 

Other

·         Community Programs for Awareness of taxi industry

·         Improving relations with police

·         Removal of driver seat-belt requirements

·         Increasing fines for fare evasion

·         Self protection spray

·         First aid Kit

·         Central locking

 

 

 

RECOMMENDATIONS

 

 

The Commission recommends the following to the Minister of Transportation and Government Services for the Government of Manitoba to approve and act upon:

 

(i)         Implement the Mandatory Action Plan as recommended in this report and review the Voluntary Action Plan with an objective to apply the same.

 

(ii)        The Taxicab Act to include driver safety as a part of The Act.

 

(iii)       Amend or change Taxicab Board’s role to be pro-active as suggested in this report.

 

(iv)              Implement the 1990 rule on safety shields with some amendments to incorporate the new design.

 

(v)                Establish an Implementation Committee to fully complete the acceptable recommendations by the Minister as soon as is feasible.   

 

 

DETAILS ON

MANDATORY ACTION PLAN

 

 

1.         Extensive mandatory training & upgraded technology appreciation programs for new drivers and dispatchers, by qualified and committed trainers.

 

It is understood that the duration of training provided for taxicab drivers before they got their licence in Winnipeg is 40 hours.   This should be reviewed with input from experienced trainers.  Suggestions from ex-victims of taxicab assaults and incidents should be considered for inclusion in the final training program.

 

Technological skills and emergency response techniques, inter-cultural relationships and behaviour, improvements in communication skills (language skills) and “Street Smart” training should be a mandatory part of training programs.

 

Placement of new drivers, new immigrants and newcomers in difficult and dangerous areas should be avoided - until such time as they are experienced in the City’s geography and its culture.  Interaction with police, using safety equipment and alarms only in real emergencies, should be taught with great emphasis and case studies.  Crisis management techniques are some of the key elements of such a training course.

 

Training programs should be designed to address various risks also associated with vehicle accidents.  Identification of a particular risk and crisis management should specifically consider fare disputes, robbery, threats/racial comments and assaults

 

The training program should be mandatory for new drivers/dispatchers prior to joining the work force.  This program must also be available at all times for existing drivers with a bad driving/employment record, on a voluntary basis.  All drivers should attend a refresher course once every two years or so.

 

The Commission recommends that the training program be finalized by the Taxicab Board working closely with the City of Winnipeg Police, taxi companies, taxicab driver representatives, appropriate agencies of the Provincial Government and previous experienced training instructors. 

 

The training program should be ongoing and available to taxicab driver applicants at a low cost, and be provided in convenient time, e.g. three to five days (or evenings). 

 

Establishment of a mandatory training program for drivers and dispatchers by the Taxicab Board would require co-operation and co-ordination within the taxi industry. 

 

To resolve some of the present problems faced by taxicab drivers, the Commission believes that these difficulties must be overcome.  A revitalised Taxicab Board, including changes in its functions and mandate should provide leadership.

 

2.         Installation of Safety Shields suitable for Manitoba climates.  A new design may be required to be developed for optimum cost value.

 

The Commission recommends the mandatory use of Safety Shields by all taxicabs, subject to the ability to install shields in all vehicles, regardless of vehicle size or shape, without jeopardizing passenger safety.  In the Commission’s findings, safety shields will definitely reduce changes of injuries or assaults on drivers.

 

A majority of taxicab drivers are in favour of safety shields, as well as other equipment to improve safety.  Shields have been the first-favoured risk-reduction choice by many drivers, regardless of taxicab company affiliation, world-wide.

 

Some taxicab owners, including drivers, oppose the use of the safety shield for a variety of reasons.  The Commission examined the potential problems associated with the use of safety shields and recommends an L-shaped adjustable safety shield to be suitably designed for Manitoba’s environment.  The device will provide immediate driver protection from assault, as well as allow time to activate other devices, such as alarms and door locks.  The installation of safety shields allows the driver to concentrate on driving and improves the pyschological security of the driver.  Safety shields are effective deterrents against violence and an impediment to casual crime.

 

Concerns have been expressed regarding the negative impact of safety shields as they relate to customer comfort, e.g. circulation of air and comfortable heating or cooling of the taxicab.

 

The isolation factor for passengers in not being able to communicate with the drivers, or feeling “caged” in, are concerns that need to be taken into account in terms of design of safety shields.  As there are no standards set by the Canadian General Standards Board, these issues need to be addressed.

 

Mandatory safety shields, properly designed, will be compatible to all taxicabs and will avoid “preferred” Vs “non-preferred” distinctions by passengers.  To recommend a voluntary action plan for the installation of safety shields and other safety devices at the discretion of taxicab driver/owners, will prove to be unfair for those taxicab companies who will follow guidelines for Workplace Safety and Health Act compared with those who would undertake “a calculated risk” to avoid such safety devices.  The safety rules must not be voluntary and optional.  As demonstrated by recommendations by the previous Study in 1989/90, the requests for safety shields were not implemented.

 

The use of the front seat at the driver’s discretion is recognized to provide for passengers for whom the rear seat is not appropriate (such as elderly or handicapped persons) or when carrying a fourth passenger. (See annex E-1) 

 

3.         Installation of cameras to photograph would-be assailants.  Many options are available.

 

Surveillance cameras can be fitted to photograph all occupants of the vehicle.  Various system specifications are available.  The risk of the taxicab being driven to remote areas and being destroyed denies any advantage in identifying the criminal.  However technology is available whereby the pictures can be electronically transmitted to the taxicab’s dispatch centre and stored for a limited period.  The cost of this system needs to be studied after developing a prototype.

 

A basic question to be addressed is when to activate the camera.  The systems that are currently available 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 specific number of frames per second; automatically increasing the number of frames when triggered by the driver.

 

However, 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 taxicab 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 against the driver is greatly increased.

 

Other issues to be addressed include protection of the equipment in temperature extremes and design and location of the segments 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 following 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.

 

4.         Silent emergency distress button to be incorporated in the taxicab for sending signals indicating life-threatening situations.

 

Drivers who feels their security is threatened can use the distress button to advise the dispatch or alarm company of their problem.

 

In normal operations, a fully activated alarm alerts the dispatch centre 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 are equipped with some form of radio dispatch.  There are possibilities of incorporating distress alarms with a wireless system, which should not be very expensive.  A detailed study on this aspect is recommended before installing the finally selected system.  Several alarm companies have been approached and the information is available.  In some cases the location of an activation switch is difficult to reach in an emergency.  Where the switch is easily reached, the frequency of false alarms - inadvertent or unnecessary activation by drivers - is very high.  This significantly undermines the effectiveness of the alarm and in the instance of a real emergency following the alarm activation, the report may not be taken seriously.

 

In the event of a physical assault on the driver, the speed with which assistance can be provided depends upon some knowledge of the taxicab’s location.  If police assistance is needed, their response time must also be considered when the alarm companies identify the victim’s car identity. 

 

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 alarms, they must recognize that, unless combined with other measures such as GPS, they are unlikely to provide assistance at the scene in time to prevent the assault and apprehend the assailant. 

 

5.      Community programs to be developed to enhance and promote race-relations, as well as public education campaign to promote awareness and appreciation of the taxi industry’s contribution in providing services to public.

 

Due to the fact that the high percentage of taxicab drivers, particularly in the City of Winnipeg, belong to ethnic minorities, there is a need to develop awareness programs for the public to learn more about the taxicab business and the risks taken by the drivers who work hard to serve an important aspect of our social needs - Private Transportation

 

Focus group discussions, Open House shows, “Best Driver of the Year” awards, “Taxis on Patrol”, “Partnership in Crime Prevention by Patrolling Cabbies”, “Carrying City Image as Challenge”, “Promoters of Tourism”, are examples of inter-personal and motivational programs which could bring the groups together. 

 

The Public need to learn about the personal stress the taxicab drivers go through.  Police need to co-operate in understanding the frustration of taxi drivers who don’t get paid after they have served the customer.

 

Public education, if designed jointly with all stakeholders, would be an excellent means of demonstrating concern for drivers and thereby improve morale.  This needs to be done in a positive manner.

 

6.      First-aid kits to be mandatory in each vehicle (safety inspectors must develop standards)

 

First-aid kits should be available all the time in each taxicab.  Fire extinguishers and other devices to aid drivers while on the road should be mandatory.  Safety inspectors should check this item as part of a routine check. 

           

7.         Protocol with police - Owners & Police to identify high-crime locations and develop a mutually acceptable crisis management system with a clear understanding of each other’s concerns and limitations.

 

It is evident from the Commission’s interviews with many drivers, that the relationship between the taxicab drivers and the City of Winnipeg police is not a harmonious one.

 

This is the situation in several cities, not only Winnipeg.  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.

 

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 offences against taxicab drivers and other crimes.

 

Following the murder of a taxi driver in Montreal, the authorities instituted a special bureau to implement taxi driver initiatives, which included police representatives.  One of the bureau’s programs was Partners in Prevention; spot police inspections of taxis and passengers.  This was an important feature in reduction of annual armed robberies by 60% in that City from 1990 to 1995.

 

New York police have also 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.

 

            Further initiatives and measures should be encouraged involving the police, other agencies and taxi drivers.  The full extent of any such involvement would only be realized in structured sessions including such agencies as is felt appropriate.  It would be naïve to suggest that the Commission has any monopoly on good ideas. 

 

The assistance of others should be sought in identifying and exploiting areas of potential at the earliest opportunity during implementation schemes.

 

            Relations between the two groups should be improved and encouraged at every opportunity and could perhaps include some social functions, such as a yearly challenge cricket/soccer match, open B.B.Q. meet, social functions, etc. involving City Police and taxi drivers.

 

The regular meetings held between representatives from the taxi drivers and the police should continue as part of the implementation committee. 

 

 

VOLUNTARY ACTION PLAN

 

2.1       Installation of latest technologically advanced tracking system with all dispatching groups (compatible to Global Positioning System (GPS)), and the development of “Codes” as silent messages sent to dispatch centres by taxicab drivers in distress.

 

2.2       Encourage introduction of pre-payment of taxi fares.  To prepare the public for this, the prepaid taxi service after 8 p.m. should start from bus terminals, railway stations and airports, and promote the use of credit /debit cards wherever possible.

 

2.3       A policy should be implemented by each taxi company to train their drivers how to handle fare disputes, and on the use of cash management systems.

 

2.4       Establish a Taxicab Safety Implementation Committee and install programs like TOPs (Taxis on Patrol) as implemented in Halifax, to encourage more community-interactive programs and activities.

 

2.5       Each driver to have a cell phone which features programmed messages when two-way radios fail.  Use of cell phone to be regulated.

 

2.6       Driver-controlled trunk locks.

 

2.7       The Taxicab Board to also act more like an “Aid” agency in helping/monitoring regulatory and voluntary programs, as well as the development of code of conduct for their licensed drivers and initiate a public relations program to interact with cab drivers on social and cultural aspects

 

2.8       Publication of a multi-page Safety Guidelines Advisory Booklet, sized 9" x 4", which can be folded to fit into any pocket, should be initially translated into ethnic languages of 75% of drivers.  

 

2.10          Provide each driver a list of areas in the City that have been shown to be high-risk, such as those where repeated incidents have previously taken place, e.g. after closure of bars or alcohol outlet shops.  Drivers must be informed to be alert before going into these “isolated” areas in difficult times.

 

2.11          Institute a special bureau to facilitate and implement taxi driver safety initiatives which must include the Police.  Programs such as "Partners in Prevention" and "Minimum Tolerance Strategy Against Crimes" should be implemented, while working with all stakeholders

 


SUMMARIZED SAFETY OPTIONS MATRIX

 

 

Intervention

Safety Tools

 

Cost-capital

(Approx) recurrent

 

Benefits

 

Drawbacks

 

Comments

 

Protection

Safety Shields

 

Capital $1500

Recurrent

Minimal

 

Clearest evidence

of deterrence

60-70%

 

Restrict air

circulation,

decreased

communication

 

An L-shape, adjustable protective shield (a conceptual sketch designed for this report attached would solve the air circulation problem).  This will only “cage” the driver while driving at night

 

Surveillance Cameras

 

$1000-2000

 

Protect passengers as well as drivers.  Identify the passenger and proof of crime. 

 

Complex technology.  May require further R&D to make it work with mobility of cab.

Transmittance to Dispatch Centre

 

An electronically image transmitting system can automatically transmit passengers images.  Needs product and system development. 

 

GPS Dispatch

System for

Instantaneous

Vehicle

Tracking

 

 

 

Immediately alert other taxis or police to crime scene.  Alert ambulance in case of injury/

life threatening

situations.

 

Drivers unwillingly as well as introduces can disconnect the taxicab from the computer system and making it difficult to track.

 

Already in use by Unicity and Duffy’s taxi companies in Winnipeg.

 

Silent alarms

Systems

 

Incorporated in

GPS System

 

Attract attention

while crime in

progress.  Sends

signals to police.

 

Organised & well

planned attacks may

not be stopped.

 

Available with GPS


 

 

Safety training

& Upgrading

 

 

 

Increase skills &

Confidence by taxi

drivers.  May also

help increase con-

summer confidence

if training includes

how to build better client relations & by

following code of

conduct.

 

User dependent and quality of training efforts is variable.  Need to repeat training and familiarisation with latest technology applications.

 

Manitoba’s training requirements must be compared with many other cities.   Trainers must have above average knowledge and be committed to the cause of driver safety.

 

 

 

 

 

Community

Programs, public

Education &

Alcohol deterrence.

More patrols in

nights & troubled

areas

 

 

Uncertain

 

 

Involves hotels & bars in taxicab safety projects.  Raising alcohol taxes higher as “surcharge” after midnight may deter

alcohol abuses.

 

Unwilling bar owners and hotel owners.  Raising alcohol taxes also raise prices for responsible drinkers.

 

Canada Inns has a model program.  There are other taxi community projects like TOPS.  To be reviewed by implementation committee.

 

Improve relation-

ships with Police

 

Nil

 

Develop a joint co-operative system to solve problems.  Be partners in crime prevention.

 

It would take a lot of persuasion for both sides to come to this voluntary mission.

 

City of Winnipeg, Government of Manitoba and taxicab representatives to form a joint committee to implement.

 

Remove Cash

from Cabs

 

Nil

 

Deterrent to Robbers

 

Customers with large bills may ask for change

 

Minimum cash to be carried.

 

Pre-Payment

System

 

Nil

 

Safe - no hassle

 

Limited.  Some may not approve this system.

 

Public places like airports/bus depots/railway stations can do this.

 


PUBLIC POLICY OPTIONS

 

Most incidents in the taxicab industry resulting in physical injuries, including deaths of taxicab drivers, happen past midnight till 2:00 a.m.  There are no statistics available to state how many of these incidents are related to specific reasons.  The City of Winnipeg Police do not keep such statistics.  This is a matter of public policy to be addressed by authorities in all three levels of government.

 

Governments have the responsibility to promote good health and safety.  Analyzing these late-night incidents, particularly after “bar closures” suggests a trend as stated below*.

 

In studies on violence, there are a number of related variables:

 

·        A high-level of alcohol consumption  

 

·        Young drinkers more commonly binge drink than adults

 

·        Levels of aggression increase with alcohol use  

 

The worst passengers are the ones who have had three or four beers and think they can take on the whole world”

 

The presence of drugs may present an even greater risk.

 

Eight risk factors were associated with violence in three Australian empirical studies.  Passengers with most of the risk factors were more likely to commit assault:

 

·        Male

·        Young

·        Evening or night calls

·        Inebriation

·        A “hail” from the street

·        Inner-city pick-up

·        Disadvantaged socio-economic clients, and

·        The pursuit of fare-evaders by drivers

 

(*Above reference: Australian Institute of Criminology, Trends and Issues No. 178)

 

It is concluded that more detailed studies are needed on the aspects of social behaviour of passengers and criminology as related to the taxicab industry.   The police record-keeping of crimes should be improved to reflect the magnitude of this problem, which unfortunately has not been addressed so far by the City of Winnipeg Police.

 

 

 

 

CONCLUSIONS

 

The report concludes that the occupation of Taxicab Driving in Manitoba, and primarily in the City of Winnipeg, has reached a substantial degree of risk, causing concerns amongst drivers and the public.  This must be corrected through Government intervention to ensure implementation of minimum safety measures by the taxicab industry and monitored by the Taxicab Board.

 

Based on information and evidence received, the Commission recommends the establishment of Mandatory safety requirements by government authorities through legislative implementation of bylaws.

 

The taxicab industry, like any other risky business, must be subject to worker safety, and health standards and rules.

 

The “Work Alone” scenario applies to taxicabs classified as mobile workplaces and the drivers as “Working Alone” workers.

 

Mandatory requirements of specific safety equipment and application of a Safety Training Plan for all licensed taxicabs would reduce risks.

 

A Voluntary Action Plan needs to be analyzed by the industry with an open mind for long-term benefits.  As the taxicab industry is a private business, certain actions must be taken by these taxicab companies to protect their employees and workers.

 

All safety equipment to be installed in taxicabs would cost money, which must be considered a part of doing business.  However, to facilitate the capital cost burden, an additional drop charge is recommended.

 

All other social/policies, issues and government actions, including better police interactions, are the responsibility of respective Government Agencies and must be attended to accordingly.

 

As taxi fares are regulated, the costs of safety equipment and plans should be analyzed in proper prospective.

 

The Study concludes and recommends that safety regulations be put in place, and a plan of action implemented to install safety devices in the taxicabs.   This will include providing training to drivers, and developing new channels of communication with the City of Winnipeg Police.  This is an opportunity to allow the taxicab industry to function with dignity and safety, and prosper as the “Ambassadors” of this City and Province. 

 


SURVEY RESULTS SUMMARY

 

Taxicab Safety Survey Results

 

Questionnaires were mailed to 1541 Taxicab drivers in Winnipeg, many of whom are not active drivers, but who renew their licenses.  Questionnaires were also mailed to taxicab drivers in Dauphin, Brandon and Thompson.

 

The tabulation cut-off date was October 3rd at which time approximately 377 replies were analyzed.

 

Following are summaries:

 

Types of cars used:

 

Caprice Classic                        147

Crown Victoria             123

Grand Marquis             8

Miscellaneous others                 47

 

Number of drivers who work:

 

16 hour shift                 11

12 hour shift                 317

8 hour shift                   35

4 hour shift                   1

 

Day shift                       217 Drivers

Evening                        169 Drivers

Late night shift  158 Drivers

 

Preference/choices of shiftwork

 

Day shift                       251

Evening shift                 94

Night shift                     106

 

(Many drivers work two jobs, one in the day and cab driving at night to make ends meet.)

 

Experience in driving

 

5 years and over           243

1 to 5 years                  104

Less than 1 year           26

 

Preferences in Safety Equipment and Systems

 

Safety shields                            267

Surveillance camera                  113

Silence distress alarm                93

Improve police protocols          77

Cashless transactions                28

 

Reporting to Police

 

Always 82

Sometimes        132

Never               88

 

(Almost 30% do not ever report incidents.)

 

Precaution by Driver

 

Doors always locked                203

Avoid night calls                       121

Minimum cash              118

Use pre – paid fares                 115

Safety box hidden                     75

Personal safety device               50

 

Total Cash at a Time

 

With     $200                29

            $100                67

            $50                  81

            $20                  171

 

Drivers formally Trained:           300

Drivers not Fully Trained:          50

No response:                            27

 

No of Drivers who have witness assaults on fellow Taxicab drivers

 

Yes      202

No       155

Action Taken After Witnessing an Assault

 

Phone Police                100

Phone Dispatch            171

Call Public’s help          42

Other action                 66

 

SUMMARY OF
TAXICAB OWNER/MANAGER'S SURVEY

 

Out of 430 vehicles operating in the City of Winnipeg under a Taxicab Bureau’s license, a total of 375 vehicles (over 87%) are with two companies , Unicity Taxi (223) and Duffy’s (152).

 

Questionnaires were sent to all, however only four replied.  Verbal interviews were held with all except Mona Taxi.

 

1.      Majority (87%) stated they believe crimes are:

-             Racially motivated.

-             Involve alcohol as a factor.

-             Lack of police interaction.

 

2.      Over 95% stated these incidents are related to alcohol being a factor (Alcohol Abuse).

 

3.      Over 90% sated the lack of police interaction.

 

ADEQUATE TRAINING

 

1.      87% stated “No” due to lack of resources. 

 

Again this group belongs to Unicity and Duffy’s only with the majority of taxicab drivers from ethnic origin.

 

2.      Public understanding of Taxicab Safety and the industry awareness.

 

Need pro – active programs: 98% Yes.

 

(Suggest Taxicab Board to initiate such a program.)

 

3.      Safety standards at Taxicab company

 

-        Duffy’s had no formal standards for Training.

-        Unicity has only on two issues.

-        Spring has nothing as a standard.

-        Blueline has not installed any standard.

 

4.      Improving Police Relationships with the industry.

 

100% stated “yes” to the question regarding Independent Safety Committee involving all stakeholders including police.


                                   


 

TAXICAB SURVEY RESULTS

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CAPRICE CLASSIC

CROWN  VICTORIA

GRAND MARQUIS

Other

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1

 

 

 

1985

 

 

 

3

 

 

 

1986

3

 

 

3

 

 

 

1987

4

 

1

3

 

 

 

1988

17

1

2

5

 

 

 

1989

17

1

2

7

 

 

 

1990

42

6

 

2

 

 

 

1991

21

1

 

1

 

 

 

1992

6

10

3

1

 

 

 

1993

23

14

 

2

 

 

 

1994

5

16

 

4

 

 

 

1995

5

41

 

4

 

 

 

1996

4

18

 

5

 

 

 

1997

 

14

 

2

 

 

 

1998

 

1

 

 

 

 

 

1999

 

 

 

1

 

 

 

2000

 

 

 

3

 

 

 

TOTAL

147

123

8

47

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#2: HOW MANY HOURS PER DAY YOU DRIVE

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

0 - 4 HRS

0 - 8 HRS

0 - 12 HRS

0 - 16 HRS

 

 

 

TOTAL

1

35

317

11

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#3: SHIFTS WORKED

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DAYS

EVENINGS

LATE NIGHT

 

 

 

 

TOTAL

217

169

158

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#4: PREFERENCE TO WORK

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DAYS

EVENINGS

NIGHTS

 

 

 

 

TOTAL

251

94

106

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#5: YEARS OF EXPERIENCE

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

LESS THAN 1 YR

1 - 5 YRS

5 YRS PLUS

 

 

 

 

TOTAL

26

104

243

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#6: SAFETY EQUIPMENT ANALYSIS

RATING/PRIORITY

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#1

#2

#3

#4

#5

 

 

SAFETY SHIELDS

267

8

15

17

50

 

 

SURVEILLANCE CAMERA

113

67

51

38

33

 

 

SILENT ALARM

93

61

49

36

25

 

 

IMPROVED POLICE PROTOCOLS

77

44

60

46

39

 

 

CASHLESS TRANSACTIONS

28

15

24

37

124

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#7: POLICE REPORT

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ALWAYS

SOMETIMES

NEVER

 

 

 

 

TOTAL

82

132

88

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#8:PREVENTATIVE MEASURES USED

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CELL PHONE

202

 

 

 

 

 

 

PANIC BUTTON

143

 

 

 

 

 

 

DISPATCH CODE

118

 

 

 

 

 

 

911

75

 

 

 

 

 

 

ROOFFLASH

149

 

 

 

 

 

 

RADIO

130

 

 

 

 

 

 

CALL PUBLIC

96

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#9: PRECAUTIONS CHOSEN BY DRIVER

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AVOID LATE NIGHT CALLS

121

 

 

 

 

 

 

DOORS ALWAYS LOCKED

203

 

 

 

 

 

 

MINIMUM CASH

118

 

 

 

 

 

 

SAFETY BOX HIDDEN IN TAXI

75

 

 

 

 

 

 

USE PRE PAID FARES

115

 

 

 

 

 

 

USE PERSON DEFENCE SYSTEM,

50

 

 

 

 

 

 

                        EG. SPRAY GUNS

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#10: MAXIMUM CASH

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

20

50

100

200

 

 

 

TOTAL

171

81

67

29

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#11: TRAINING AS TAXICAB DRIVERS

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

YES

NO

NO RESPONSE

 

 

 

 

 

300

50

27

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#12:  WITNESS FELLOW TAXI DRIVERS BEING ASSAULTED

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

YES

NO

 

 

 

 

 

 

202

155

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IF YES ACTION TAKEN

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PHONED POLICE

100

 

 

 

 

 

 

INFORMED DISPATCH

171

 

 

 

 

 

 

CALLED PUBLIC'S HELP

42

 

 

 

 

 

 

ANY OTHER ACTION

66

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 


Annex         A – 1                    Questionnaires mailed to Taxicab Drivers

 

A – 2           Questionnaires couriered/Mailed to Taxicab owners

 

                             B – 1           Shields (details)

                             B – 2           Cameras (details)

 

C – 1          Alarm and Communications System Schematics

 

                             D – 1                    Articles on Taxicab Safety Issues

 

E – 1           City of Winnipeg Agenda Discussions on Taxicab Safety

                             E – 2           Cost and Demand Elasticity

 

                             F – 1           Correspondence with Winnipeg Police

                             F – 2           Miscellaneous other related papers

 

 

                                               

                    


SUGGESTED NEW DESIGN



QUESTIONNAIRE TO DRIVERS







QUESTIONNAIRE TO OWNERS









CURRENT MANITOBA
TAXICAB SHIELDS REGULATION










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