How many drivers are killed each year?
This chart shows annual totals for 678 occupational homicides of US taxicab and livery drivers between 1994 and 2013. The average throughout the period was about 34 per year. The data are drawn from the taxicab driver Memoriam List which is maintained on this site. The Memoriam List is based primarily on press reports of cab driver homicides. This chart of the last twenty years does not show the much higher levels that occurred in the early 1990s, e.g. 76 homicides in 1991. Those high numbers were largely due to livery driver homicides in New York City prior to implementation of strong crime prevention measures in 1994.
Putting a face on taxi homicide statistics
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 2000 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.
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."
Equipment Strategies: Cameras
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."
Cammie K. Chaumont Menéndez, PhD, Harlan E. Amandus, PhD, Parisa Damadi, BS, Nan Wu, MS, Srinivas Konda, MPH, Scott A. Hendricks, MS
(Crime Science 2014, 3:4)
Cameras act as a deterrent and as an aid in the apprehension of perpetrators.
The devices, usually mounted above the rearview mirror, provide a wide angle view of the interior of the vehicle. Modern versions record high resolution video and include a forward-facing lens that records video through the windshield. Infrared sensors allow images to be captured even in a darkened cab at night.
Images from taxi security cameras are much-liked by the press, which is fortunate because media publicity about "robbers caught on camera" is one key to camera effectiveness. Such articles have appeared following crimes in: Winnipeg; Toronto; Washington; Perth; Houston; and Holland.
This photo by a taxi security camera records an armed robbery by a rear seat assailant in an unpartitioned cab. It starkly illustrates the grave danger to drivers during holdups. In this case, the driver survived with no physical injury. Taxi security cameras usually have blinking lights and are announced by signs both inside and outside the cab in order to enhance the camera's deterrent value. This young robber, however, either did not see the camera or did not care. The photo, which was published in the Cincinnati Enquirer, also illustrates why drivers may have privacy concerns about the use of camera images.
Perth (Western Australia) in late-1997 was the first city to adopt cameras. The move to install cameras began after two serious assaults on drivers in 1995, and developed in the atmosphere of distrust toward cab drivers in 1996 and 1997 when the highly publicized "Claremont" serial killings of young women occurred, allegedly after the victims hailed cabs. For more on Perth's adoption of cameras, see Cameras in Perth's Taxis, by Dr. Ian Radbone, University of South Australia.
Journal of Transportation Technologies
Minimum Requirements for Taxicab Security Cameras
Shengke Zeng, Harlan E. Amandus, Alfred A. Amendola, Bradley H. Newbraugh, Douglas M. Cantis, Darlene Weaver
(Journal of Transportation Technologies, 4, 216-255)
Researchers from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health took more than 10,000 photographs of human-face charts in a simulated-taxicab with various photographic resolutions, dynamic ranges, lens-distortions, and motion-blurs in various light and cab-seat conditions. The authors recommend that taxicab security cameras have minimum resolution of XGA-format, highlight-dynamic-range of 1 EV, twilight-dynamic-range of 3.3 EV, lens-distortion of 30%, and shutter-speed of 1/30 second.
Taxicab security cameras protect the public as well as drivers
Modern taxicab security cameras record both forward-facing and rear-facing digital video images. The photos above were released to the press by the San Francisco Police Department in August 2014. The man is wanted for the murder of a pedestrian. The images were captured by the forward-facing lens of a taxicab security camera looking through the windshield of the cab. In the same month SFPD investigators requested video from dozens of taxicabs whose cameras may have captured the license plate number of a hit-and-run vehicle that killed a child on a busy downtown street. Taxicabs are increasingly recognized as valuable aids to solving crimes.
Taxicab security cameras may also provide evidence proving or disproving allegations of assault within a taxicab. Allegations can be especially devastating to a driver who is falsely accused of sexual impropriety toward a passenger; in such cases a taxicam is the driver's best defense. Cameras are conspicuous and discourage improper behavior or crimes by passengers and drivers alike.
Cab companies can quickly recover the cost of cameras because they record collisions. Most accidents involving taxicabs are the other driver's fault and video images can quickly disprove fraudulent claims. Insurers may offer discounted liability insurance for camera-equipped taxicabs.
Equipment Strategies: Partitions
Protect drivers in the most common high-risk scenario, which is an opportunistic attack from behind.
Constructed of bullet-resistant materials that form a barrier between drivers and passengers.
Light-colored vinyl upholstery covers the steel lower half of a partition.
Proven-effective - read the abstract of "The Effectiveness of Taxi Partitions: The Baltimore Case."
Cheap and low maintenance, partitions are appropriate technology for small operations, which comprise the majority of the taxi industry. They can be installed by a mechanic in 30 minutes.
Partitions are a familiar sight to travelers. They are used in tens of thousands of cabs in Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, Boston, Baltimore, London, Sydney, Shanghai and many other places.
In order to be effective, any opening or window in the partition must be in the closed position.
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.
A partition installed in a Dodge Caravan minivan. See additional photos of this vehicle.
The Manitoba Taxicab Safety Shields Report of November 1991 offers a comprehensive review of issues involved with partitions, still relevant many years later.
A nicely illustrated 24-page color printable training brochure is Tips for Taxi & Livery Drivers: Dealing with Workplace Violence. The brochure is courtesy of Western Iowa Tech Community College and was developed under a Susan Harwood grant from the United States Department of Labor, Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
Another well illustrated safety brochure is the 16-page Your guide to a safer workplace - Victorian taxi driver safety produced by the Victorian Taxi Directorate's Department of Infrastructure.
Additional Taxi Safety Resources and Research
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.
- 94% of the attacks occur when the driver is inside the cab.
- 85% of the fatal injuries are gunshot wounds.
- 82% of the assaults occur at night.
- 74% of the deaths are due to head and neck injuries.
- 64% of the deaths are from gunshots to the head.
- 66% of the assailants are under age twenty.
- 47% of the assailants act alone.
- 25% of the assailants are outside the cab.
- working with the public
- working with cash
- working alone
- working at night
- working in high-crime areas
- automatic vehicle location or global positioning systems (GPS) to locate drivers in distress
- caller ID to help trace location of fares
- first-aid kits for use in emergencies
- in-car surveillance cameras to aid in apprehending perpetrators
- partitions or shields to protect drivers from would-be perpetrators - must be used properly to work effectively
- protocol with police owners and police need to track high-crime locations and perpetrator profiles
- radios to communicate in case of emergency e.g. open mike switch
- safety training to teach drivers, dispatchers, and company owners protective measures
- silent alarms to alert others in the event of danger e.g., bandit lights
- use of debit/credit cards i.e., cashless fare systems to discourage robbers
Three crime-prevention essays from Kingston (Ontario) drivers Roy Ambury and Allan Kleywegt, June 2009.
The New South Wales (Australia) Ministry of Transport created the Taxi Industry Safety and Security Taskforce which issued its Final Report in December 2007. See also the appended Taxi Driver Security Survey that was conducted as part of the Taskforce's work. An earlier Interim Report was issued in July 2007.
Crime Prevention Recommendations For Cab Company Owners, Drivers and Dispatchers from the St. Petersburg (Florida) Police Department, August 2008. (380kb PDF)
Robbery of Taxi Drivers, March 2005 community policing guide for US police departments from the Department of Justice by Martha J. Smith, associate professor of criminal justice in the School of Community Affairs at Wichita State University in Wichita, Kansas. (336KB PDF document)
"Streetwise: How taxi drivers establish customers' trustworthiness" is a 2005 book based on the experiences of taxi and livery drivers in Belfast and New York City. It is the result of a study by UK researchers Diego Gambetta and Heather Hamill; see "Signalling and Mimicking Trustworthiness: Taxi Drivers and Their Customers in Dangerous Cities". A synopsis and purchase info on the book is available from the Russell Sage Foundation.
Preventing Homicide in the Workplace, NIOSH alert and request for assistance, May 1995
Violence in the Workplace: Risk Factors and Prevention Strategies NIOSH Current Intelligence Bulletin #57 June 1996
Speech presented by Barb Kabrick to the 2004 NIOSH Workplace Violence Conference in Baltimore
Criminal Intent Workplace Violence by Barbara Kabrick, at the Conference on Violence as a Workplace Risk, November 29/30 2001, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Taxicab Safety Issues, Manitoba Taxicab Board, October 2001
Violent Assaults on Taxi Drivers, by Claire Mayhew, Australian Institute of Criminology, dated November 2000. (PDF)
Preventing Assaults on Taxi Drivers, by Claire Mayhew, Australian Institute of Criminology, dated November 2000. (PDF)
From the Driver's Seat a Safety Report by London, Ontario Taxi Drivers
Taxi Driver: Worst Occupational Hazard in Minneapolis, 2003 paper by Mia Lor
Fare Game, Fare Cop Victimization of, and Policing by, Taxi Drivers in Three Canadian Cities, by Dr. Philip Stenning. The document, 116 pages in Word format (476KB), is also available as a 1 megabyte PDF file. See also a Poster Magazine article from December 1996 discussing the report.
Proceedings of Western Australia Taxi Driver Safety and Summit
Taxi Driver Safety Survey by Victorian Taxi Directorate, Australia
Statistics on crime and related subjects from the U.S. Bureau of Justice
Taxi Driver Security speech presented by Prof. John Stone before the Montreal Urban Community Taxi Bureau, 6 Dec 1996
Taxi Safety Initiatives Study, by Dr. Ian Radbone, University of South Australia, 27 March 1997
Issues and Options Discussion Paper, by Public Transportation Drivers Task Force, Province of British Columbia, Canada, June 1998
Taxi crime prevention flyer in Word format by Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department (North Carolina) June 2002
Another point of view: An Acceptable Level of Violence. The authors argue that South Africa's taxi drivers are part of that country's system of "retributive informal justice."
Winnipeg taxi drivers demand safety shields
Life stinks for Spokane cabbies, The Local Planet Newsweekly, Spokane, WA, USA, 14 June 2001
How safe is taxi driving for women?, by Barb Kabrick, Spokane, WA, USA, as published in Call Sign, London, UK
An exploration of seasonal variation in taxicab homicides. Based on six years worth of data, the incidence of homicide appears to be greater at some times of the year and lower at other times.
How To Make The Job Safer for Cabbies, as published in Canada's national newspaper, the Globe and Mail, following the murder of 2 taxi drivers in Toronto over 3 days 30 Dec 1999 and 1 Jan 2000.
Defensive Driving, Being a cabbie is one of the most dangerous jobs in America, by Rose Farley, Dallas Observer, 9 December 1999
German summary analysis of taxi driver safety measures, in the German language, plus paraphrased transalation into English alongside.
Taxi driver mind set for safety by Gord Barton
28 Tips for Taxi Driver Safety by Gord Barton
Dressing for Effectives and Personal Safety by Gord Barton
Violence in the Workplace by Guardian Security Services, Inc., 13 Dec 96
Most Dangerous Jobs in New York: Gypsy Cab Driver by Richard Marosi, from Columbia University News Service
GPS & A Taxi Driver in Peril, or Where in the World Are You?
Taxi Drivers and Road Safety, a 1997 study from the Australian Federal Office of Road Safety. From the Executive Summary: "The major findings indicate that anger and risk-taking are important predictors of taxi driver accidents, with increased anger expression and increased risk-taking being related to a greater likelihood of involvement in accidents. Average length of shifts and vehicle type were also significant predictors of accident involvement." (674KB pdf)
Applied Cognition Laboratory at the University of Utah researches the impact of using advanced in-car technologies on driving performance and traffic safety.
National Safety Council, a membership organization dedicated to protecting life and promoting health.
State-by-state information on Diabetes and your driver's license, a 2005 project of the American Diabetes Association reviewing rules and policies in all 50 states. The focus is on non-commercial licenses, which is the kind required for taxicab drivers in many states.
Drive and Stay Alive, highway safety research papers and related publications from around the world.
"Occupational and personal factors associated with acquired lumbar spondylolisthesis of urban taxi drivers" by J-C Chen1, W P Chan, J N Katz, W P Chang and D C Christiani. Article in Occupational and Environmental Medicine 2004;61:992-998. Read online or download as a 120kb PDF from OEM Online.
- Wai Keung (John) Tsang, 2007, unlicensed cab, 30th Avenue and Santiago
- Musharaf Poswal, 2006, Yellow Cab, Bayview at San Pablo, City of Richmond
- Sukhpal Singh Sodhi, 2002, United Cab, 24th Street and Folsom
- Munther Salman, 1999, Yellow Cab, 1700 Truman Street, City of Richmond
- Gennady Penskoy, 1998, United Cab, Sunnydale and Sawyer
- Daljeet Singh Ghotra, 1997, Yellow Cab, Laguna and Ellis
- David Hayes, 1993, City Cab, 1000 Parkside, City of Richmond
- Richard Harcos, 1992, Luxor Cab, 200 block of Blythedale
- Parminder Singh, 1992, Yellow Cab, Funston and Lake
- Andrew Lee Scott, 1991, Yellow Cab, Maddux and Quint
- John B. Coleman, 1989 (d. 1993), Yellow Cab, Farragut Street
- George Oppenlander, 1988, Yellow Cab, Barneveld and Sweeny
- Leonard Smith, 1986, Allied Cab, an unknown location in the Western Addition
- George Ring, 1984, Yellow Cab, Scott and Grove
- Albert H. Hohl, 1981, Luxor Cab, Eddy and Scott
- Michael Albert, 1977, Veterans Cab, Watchman Way
- Robert Duran, 1976, Eagle Cab, 18th Street and Linda
- John Dadian, 1975, DeSoto Cab, near Seal Rock Inn
- Gene DiLabbio, 1974, Yellow Cab, Chestnut and Kearny
- Roland J. Canfield, 1973, Yellow Cab, Noe and 27th Street
- Fred J. Hooper, 1971, Yellow Cab, Newcomb near Lane
- Charles Jarman, 1970, Yellow Cab, Jackson Street in Pacific Heights
- Paul Stine, 1969, Yellow Cab, Washington and Cherry
- Victor J. Zarchinski, 1967, Luxor Cab, near 122 19th Avenue
- Samuel Bergman, 1963, Yellow Cab, near Park Merced
- John K. Dearth, 1948, 25th Street and Capp
- Earnest A. Pinataro, 1947, Bluebird Cab, Newcomb near Quint
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:
A taxi crime scene investigation
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
Police poster issued following the murder of San Francisco taxicab driver Paul Stine.
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.
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.
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.
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.
A NYC minivan taxi with a partition, January 2008.
Ford Escape hybrid equipped with an L-shaped partition and passenger information monitor, 2008.
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."
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.
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.
An LTI London cab partition in a left-hand drive version of the vehicle.
Case study: Camera-only in San Francisco
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. The cameras were prone to undetected breakage of internal wire connectors. Spot checks conducted by the Police Department in late 2005 revealed that many cameras had become non-functional.
San Francisco taxis are now equipped with a later generaton of advanced high-resolution forward- and rear-facing digital video cameras. The devices are very conspicuous to passengers. Despite a large increase in the size of the taxi fleet, there were no homicides in licensed cabs between 2006 and the time of this writing in Fall 2014. A fatal attack occurred in an unlicensed cab in 2007.
Twenty-seven San Francisco taxicab drivers were slain between 1947 and 2013.
A search of SF newspaper records going back to 1921 turned up no reports of taxi driver homicides prior to 1947. This list includes one driver who died four years after his injuries and two slain outside the city limits. Not included are two deaths in the 1970s identified as possible cabdriver homicides by the SF Medical Examiner's Office.
Frequency of SF taxi homicides by year
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