Photo: a security camera in a Cincinnati taxicab captured this image of an armed robbery.

Homicide Prevention

American Journal of Preventive Medicine
June 11, 2013
Effectiveness of Taxicab Security Equipment in Reducing Driver Homicide Rates

Cammie K. Chaumont Menéndez, PhD, Harlan E. Amandus, PhD, Parisa Damadi, BS, Nan Wu, MS, Srinivas Konda, MPH, Scott A. Hendricks, MS

(Am J Prev Med 2013;45(1):1-8)


From page 5 of the article:

"These data support the hypothesis that installing cameras in taxicabs results in a reduction in citywide taxicab driver homicide rates post-installation (seven times lower homicide rate) and compared to cities with neither cameras nor partitions (three times lower homicide rate). The data do not support the hypothesis that cities with partitions installed in taxicabs experience lower taxicab driver homicide rates than cities with neither cameras nor partitions. This is the first study to methodically collect data from a nationally representative sample of the largest taxicab cities over a 15-year time span that allows for comparison of rates pre- and post-installation of cameras."


Chart showing the number of US cab driver homicides in each year from 1980 to 2007
View a larger version of the chart

How many drivers are killed each year?

This chart summarizes 1126 occupational homicides of US taxicab and livery drivers between 1980 and 2009. The average throughout the period was about 38 per year. The highest numbers were in the 1990s before New York City implemented its crime prevention program for taxis and liveries.

Sources and notes: The 1994-2009 data are drawn from the cab driver Memoriam list which is maintained on this site. The Memoriam list is based primarily on press reports of cab driver homicides. The 1980-1993 data are from the "606 Homicides" report, described below, which is based on both press reports and official tallies of cab driver homicides. The totals for 1994-1996 are probably understated, especially with regard to New York City. Most likely there were a few more deaths in each of those three years than is reflected in these numbers.


Pattern in taxi homicides

The typical fatal scenario is a night time shooting from inside the cab. Most of the deaths are due to head or neck injuries, and most of the assailants are in their teens. The following are the main findings from the report "606 Taxicab Driver Homicides, United States and Canada, 1980-1994" by Charles Rathbone.


OSHA Factsheet, May 2000: Risks and Preventive Strategies

Taxicab and livery drivers are 60 times more likely than other workers to be murdered on the job. In May 2000, the US Occupational Safety and Health Administration prepared a two-page fact sheet on taxi safety. It is the single most authoritative statement on homicide risks in the taxi business and the recommended preventive strategies.

The homicide risk factors for taxi drivers are:

The recommended preventive strategies include:


Putting a face on taxi homicide statistics

Photo of Ahmed Hussein Ahmed





Taxicab driver Ahmed Hussein Ahmed, pictured at left, was murdered in Minneapolis, Minnesota during 2003. View the photo section on the Memoriam page.






The Memoriam List records the names of more than 1000 taxi and livery drivers who were murdered on the job, and provides partial information on the murders of an additional 1000+. The list is updated frequently, and can be sorted by name, date or place. If you have recently lost a loved one, please see the resource sheet for family members.

Photo of a murder suspect

Why do they kill cab drivers?

This 62 year old man was arrested for the murder of a taxi driver in Portland, Oregon. Read "Why do they kill cab drivers?", an essay with photos on making sense out of "senseless murder."



Training materials


Equipment strategies

Partitions

Photo of a partition in a taxicab

Light-colored vinyl upholstery covers the steel lower half of a partition.

View of a partition

This view from the front seat shows a partition's sliding window unlocked and open.
The change tray is visible at the left. A screw-on aluminum clamp attached to the upper
rail limits the distance that the window opens, in this case to about 4 inches.

Photo of a partition in a minivan

A partition installed in a Dodge Caravan minivan. See additional photos of this vehicle.

Cameras

Photo shows side view of mounted camera head Side view of a digital camera head, one of several models on the market.

Journal of the American Medical Association
February 27, 2002
Effectiveness of Safety Measures Recommended for Prevention of Workplace Homicide

Dana Loomis, PhD; Stephen W. Marshall, PhD; Susanne H. Wolf, RN,MPH; Carol W. Runyan, PhD; John D. Butts, MD

JAMA. 2002;287:1011-1017.

Photo of the panel Panel wth the camera's panic-button, indicator light and data port.



Sign: You Are Being Watched This eye-catching graphic, a satirical protest, is courtesy of the Surveillance Camera Players. It uses a blunt message and a bold arrow to draw attention to a security camera.


Photo: armed robbery in progress

Case study: Partition-or-Camera in NYC

Good evidence for the effectiveness of a partition-or-camera policy comes from New York City. In the early 1990s there were 40+ drivers killed each year. Now there are almost no murders, thanks in large part to mandated safety equipment in virtually all of the 50,000+ cabs and liveries.

Chart: Homicides by year, NYC

The data sources for this chart are TLC statistics and and press reports.

Partitions were required for all medallion cabs and for some liveries beginning in 1994, and either a partition or camera for almost all of the remaining liveries in 2000. See the March 2000 press release authorizing in-vehicle digital camera as an alternative security device to satisfy the For-Hire Vehicle partition requirement. A September 2000 TLC industry notice gave details about municipal funding of the city's partition-or-camera program. Of the 13,550 requests for reimbursement, 73% were for partitions. Beginning in 2006, hybrid-model medallion cabs, which tend to be smaller vehicles, are allowed to use cameras instead of partitions.

Crash statistics from New York City reveal that passenger injuries went down steadily every year following the introduction of partitions in 1994. Read a synopsis of the results and see the full report by transportation consultant Bruce Schaller.

New York's cab safety policies go well beyond requiring safety equipment, including at one time assigning hundreds of police officers to work full-time on cab safety. NYC medallion cabs are almost all long-wheelbase Crown Victoria Fords, a model that was designed specifically to facilitate the use of a partition.

Photo of a NYC taxi with a partition

View of a long-wheelbase NYC medallion cab with a partition installed.

The compelling lesson from New York is that a policy of requiring either a partition or a camera has worked very well, in conjunction with municipal funding for the equipment, and in conjunction with other crime prevention measures. It is a clear formula for success in preventing homicides against taxicab drivers.

New York City, once notorious for taxi driver murders, is now arguably the safest city for cab driving in the US.

Photo of a NYC minivan taxi with a partition

A NYC minivan taxi with a partition, January 2008.


Photo of a NYC hybrid taxi with an L-shaped partition

Ford Escape hybrid equipped with an L-shaped partition and passenger information monitor, 2008.


NYPD on taxi safety equipment

From the Taxi and Limousine Commission minutes of February 26, 2004

"Captain Sbano then stated that it was the opinion of the New York City Police Department that partitions were a very sound crime prevention strategy and they would like to see them continued. Commissioner Dean then asked if cameras were better than partitions. Captain Sbano distinguished between preventing crime and using means after a crime has occurred to identify the perpetrator. Captain Sbano stated that it was better to prevent the crime from occurring in the first place."

Illustration of modern-looking redesigned taxi partition

Proposed redesign of NYC taxicab partition. Image by Antenna Design New York Inc. Courtesy of the Design Trust for Public Space. See also Designing the Taxi for more on the future of the NYC taxicab.


Case study: Partition-and-Camera in Winnipeg

The murder of driver Pritam Deol on July 17, 2001 led to the mandatory installation of taxi security cameras by July 2002 and partitions by January 2003. In addition, about 80% of taxicabs have a global positioning system that can identify a cab's location in the event of an emergency. The partitions used in Winnipeg are half-shields that protect against attacks from behind. They are made of a less rigid material compared to the bullet-resistant partitions used in US cities. All drivers receive mandatory training in use of the cameras.

Winnipeg's determined response to crime led to a 79% reduction in robberies during 2003 compared to 2001. What's more, the arrest rate in robberies and assaults against drivers rose from 35% in 2001 to 50% in 2002 and to 66% in 2003, a result attributed to images of criminals obtained by taxi security cameras. As of July 2006, there have been no further driver homicides since 2001. Arguably Winnipeg taxicabs are the safest in North America.

Picture of a Winnipeg shield
-Photo by Richard Kellie
Winnipeg half-shields attach to the back of the driver seat. They move forward and backward with the seat.
Camera close-up view
-Photo by Richard Kellie
Digital security camera head mounted over the rear-view mirror in a Winnipeg taxicab.






Case study: Partition-only in Boston, Baltimore and Los Angeles

Boston required partitions decades ago in response to driver homicides. Murders have since become rare, with the most recent being in 1993. Baltimore mandated partitions at the request of industry leaders in 1996, also in response to driver homicides. That city's experience led to the best-documented case study on partitions. See the statistical analysis by Dr. John Stone in his report, "The Effectiveness of Taxi Partitions: The Baltimore Case." Similarly the City of Los Angeles required partitions in all its licensed taxicabs during the 1990s. As in Baltimore, the Los Angeles switch to partitions was initiated by an industry leader. The taxi homicides that occur in Baltimore and Los Angeles are almost invariably among unlicensed or out-of-town cabs.


Case study: Partition-only in London

All London licensed taxicabs (but not minicabs) are equipped with factory-installed partitions. The clear plastic screens are attack-resistant, but not bullet-resistant as in the US. Originally a passenger privacy feature, the partitions provide a significant level of security for drivers as well. Homicides are extremely rare among London's tens of thousands of licensed cabs.

London taxi partition

An LTI London cab partition in a left-hand drive version of the vehicle.


Case study: Partitions in China

Little information is available on China's taxi industry, but partitions are widely used throughout the country.

Photo of a Shanghai taxi partition

An L-shaped partition in a Shanghai taxi, 2007. Photo courtesy of Jack Barry.


Case study: Camera-or-GPS in Toronto

Toronto taxicabs are required to have either a security camera or a global positioning system linked to a driver-activated panic button. Most cabs have security cameras. While crimes against drivers decreased following the mandate for security devices, there have been setbacks. Morteza Khorassani was murdered in September 2005 and then Mahmood Bhatti was killed in May 2006.

Jonathan Forder wanted for Toronto taxi driver murder

Jonathan Forder, 31, is the prime suspect in the May 2006 murder of a Toronto taxicab driver and an attack on another cab driver the same night. Forder fled Toronto but was captured a few weeks later. The photo was taken with a digital security camera in a Toronto cab.


Case study: Camera-only in San Francisco

San Francisco requires all cabs to be equipped with a digital security camera. Unlike Winnipeg, partitions are not required in addition to the cameras, though a handful of cabs do have partitions installed in addition to the cameras. And unlike Toronto and New York, there is no option allowing alternate equipment to satisfy the safety mandate. Thus San Francisco is the only city in North America to date that is a "pure" test of the effectiveness of cameras.

Chart: SF crimes 1999 to 2005

The two most recent driver homicides were in 1999 and 2002. Cameras were installed during April of 2003 following a highly publicized series of robberies. The reported number of robberies and carjackings declined in 2004 but went back up to prior levels in 2005. Police investigations were hampered in 2005 due to technical issues with the cameras that resulted in a high percentage of cases (more than 50%) in which no image could be recovered from the camera following an attack. Spot checks conducted by the Police Department in late 2005 revealed that many cameras had become non-functional.


Crime-prevention resources and research

Photo of a crime scene investigation

A taxi crime scene investigation

Chart: causal sequence

For a chart and discussion of the causal sequence and intervention points in cabdriver assaults, see "Assault and Homicide as an Occupational Hazard for Taxicab Drivers: A Hazard Management Approach" by Julie A. Holston

Wanted poster showing two artist sketches of a murder suspect

Police poster issued following the murder of San Francisco taxicab driver Paul Stine.

Chart: three-quarters are head and neck injuries

Nature of the injury in 151 taxi driver homicides from 606 Taxi Driver Homicides, US and Canada 1980-1994, a report by Charles Rathbone based on news reports

Chart: seasonal variation

Annotated SF map

The map shows approximate locations of San Francisco taxicab driver homicides. Twenty five drivers were slain between 1947 and 2005. See the Taxicabs San Francisco web site for more safety-related information on that city.



Additional Taxi Safety Resources and Research

Photo of a fatal cab-train wreck

This fatal taxi wreck claimed six lives in Southern California. It was caused by an unlicensed cab driver who tried to beat a train to a crossing.

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