Taxi drivers work one of the most hazardous jobs. They are constantly on the road rushing from one location to the next. They depend on random strangers to generate their income and often keep large quantities of cash on hand. Things can get dangerous quickly.
Criminals and thieves, motivated by easy access to money, may attempt to attack and rob taxi drivers. These violent crimes can occur at any time—even during a fare or when the driver is out of the vehicle. Whether you employ taxi drivers or are one yourself, you need to assess and minimise your work-related risks. Arm yourself with the knowledge to stop troublemakers in their tracks.
Taxi drivers provide a valuable public service, one that is too important to be threatened by a few crooks. By heeding these safety tips, you can safeguard yourself or your employees and reduce future incidents.
Be alert and aware – Even when you are parked, stay aware of your surroundings. The tiniest detail might be the key to stopping a crime or identifying a perpetrator. Resting between shifts and eating well will help boost your ability to remain alert and aware at all times.
Check all emergency supplies before every shift – Make sure your vehicle has a torch, first-aid kit, mobile phone, etc. Check for proper tyre pressure.
Refrain from flashing money or expensive jewellery – Do not extend an invitation to a potential thief—never flash money or jewellery. If passengers offer a large denomination note, ask them to get change at a nearby store. Do not let passengers know you have the money to change it. Asking you to break a large note could just be a thinly veiled probe to see if you are worth robbing.
Size up your customers and assess risks – Veteran taxi drivers assess all their customers and determine whether they pose a threat. Never underestimate people—learn to read their body language and gauge whether they are dangerous.
Greet and maintain eye contact with passengers – A direct stare can intimidate potential thieves and make them realise that, should they attempt a robbery, you will be ready to call the police with an accurate physical description. Greeting passengers and maintaining eye contact gives you psychological upper-hand. Thieves are more likely to attack if you seem meek and distracted.
Know your emergency procedures – Almost all taxi companies have a written set of emergency procedures—make sure yours is up to date and ready in the event of an emergency.
Keep your windows rolled up – Leave all windows up. Roll down one window just a little to talk to customers. Windows that are completely rolled down make it easier for a thief to yank you out of your car or open the driver door.
Lock all your doors – Open doors represent a stroke of luck for thieves. Locked doors protect your vehicle when it is idle, and force you to unlock doors for every passenger, meaning you can get a good look at each customer before he or she enters your vehicle. Failing to see thieves’ faces gives them the upper hand.
Trust your instincts – First impressions can be very telling. If you feel uneasy while driving a customer, stay alert and be extra vigilant.
Require specific directions – Customers who provide you with vague directions may have an ulterior motive. Ask customers to provide you with a solid destination before driving or allowing them into your vehicle.
Make customers sit within your eye line – Never let customers sit directly behind you in your vehicle—this gives attackers the opportunity to attack without warning. Ask customers to sit to your left so you can watch them peripherally.
Carry a spare key – In the event of an emergency in which you have been separated from your car keys, an extra one in your pocket or small vehicle compartment can be a life-saver.
Drive only in well-lit areas – Never drive into dark alleys or back lanes. The darker an area, the more incentive a thief has to attack you. Tell customers it is company policy to drive only in well-lit areas.
Offer no resistance to robbers – If you do become a victim to robbers, offer no resistance—just give them whatever they demand. Your life is worth more than your vehicle.
Call the police, or instruct your drivers to call your dispatcher in the event of an emergency – If you are robbed or another emergency develops, call the police or your dispatcher immediately. Your dispatcher can call the police and provide the driver’s location while you deal with the situation.
After an Incident
Your actions immediately after a violent assault or robbery could be essential to apprehending your attacker. Do not waste any time—complete the following steps at your first opportunity to maximise the police’s chances of catching the criminal.
Write down everything about the incident, including a description of the passenger, what he or she said and did, his or her accent, his or her destination and anything else you can remember.
Report all violent incidents to the police.
Be prepared to make a witness statement in the future. Do not be afraid to speak out—courts are advised to hand down particularly harsh sentences to criminals who target workers providing a public service, such as taxi drivers.