safety tips fro taxis

 

TAXI DRIVER SAFETY    
MODULES

Understanding the inherent dangerous nature of the industry

Understanding the nature and personalities of people.

Learning to "read" your customer.

Learning and understanding the basic safety rules.

Police relations.

Weapons - the none use of and why.

Prostitution - your legal guidelines

Needles - the extreme danger of drugs/disease

Hostility and negativism


Foreword:

It is extremely important that all taxi drivers, especially those of you that
are new to the business, to understand the dangerous and complex nature of the
industry itself, to understand some of the dynamics, to learn how not to become
a victim. 

The danger of the being a taxi driver

The taxi driver business is a very different one from most occupations, and
there is a very real and high risk of personal danger to each driver, and it
appears to be getting steadily worse each year, and the statistics bear this
out.
The reasons for this are actually very simple in nature, seemingly
unrealistic, but they are true, and they are as follows:

  • You work alone
  • You work all types of long,
  • You work in isolated areas.
  • You always have ready cash
  • People perceive that you have the lowliest job of all, and therefor you are
    of no human value.
  • You are always dealing with strangers.
  • The very nature of your business, service, requires you to deal with
    everyone.
  • Very often, you have a language barrier, which is difficult to deal with.
  • Your own peers often cheat the public, thus raising disrespect and contempt
  • Racism plays a factor

     
  • Understanding the nature and personalities of
    people

  • No two people are the same, in body, or in mind.
  • Some people are psychopaths with no emotions, feelings, or remorse.
  • Most people you deal with are nice, but we all have our bad days
  • People judge other people by their own values, with little regard for
    reality
     
    Learning how to "read" your customer

  • You must read up on and become familiar with "body language". This goes hand
    in hand with "active listening" to what the people are really saying versus what
    their "body language" is telling you.

  • You must never, ever, underestimate your customer and what they may be
    capable of doing to you.
  • You must never let your guard down when you have a fare in your taxi,
    irregardless of who they are, or how they are dressed or appear to be.
  •  

    Learning and understanding the basic safety
    rules
    .


    THE Radio and the dispatcher



    • The most important piece of equipment in your taxi is your radio, as it
      connects you to your dispatcher. The dispatcher is "your lifeline".
    • They are the ones who will get you help if you are in trouble.
    • They are the ones who will give you accurate information when you need it.
    • They are the ones who will "sense" when you are in trouble and assist you.
    • They are the ones who will dispatch you for trips in a fair and equitable
      manner with all the other drivers.
    • They are the ones which will keep you informed on what is happening.
    • Have a good relationship with all dispatchers - you need them on your
      side.


    Be alert and aware.


    You must keep yourself very alert and aware of what is going on around you at
    all times, whether you are parked or driving. Take good care of yourself, be
    rested, eat well, and get lots of exercise. The exercise and movement around you
    will get by handling peoples luggage, going to doors to get your customers,
    opening and closing doors all contribute to the enrichment of oxygen in your
    blood, which is what keeps up your energy and awareness.

    You must be alert for traffic, using defensive driving tactics, and you must
    remain alert to who may be around you when you are parked on the street or a
    lot. If you don't, you are giving someone a chance to sneak up on you and catch
    you by surprise. You must be very alert whenever you have passengers in the car
    with you. If you snooze....you lose!

    Do not flash or display your money.

    Do not wear any type of expensive watch, neck chains, or wrist bracelets. If
    you do, you are providing motivation for the person to rob you. Buy a cheap
    watch, etc., the throwaway type. Make sure , if you must wear a neck chain, that
    it is very thin so that it will break before it can strangle you. Ensure that
    you keep a minimum amount of money on you, say change for a $20 bill, get a bank
    account and use the ATM machine and when you are finished for the night, simply
    withdraw it.

    If your passenger offers you a large denomination bill, advise him you will
    take him to get it changed at a nearby store. DO NOT show him that you have
    money to change it.

    Size up your passenger - assess risk.

    Most passengers will pose some level of risk to you. Read them - assess them,
    then act accordingly. You must remember this point:

    Never underestimate anybody

    Greet-and maintain eye contact with the fare when picking up

    It is essential that you make eye contact with each and every one of your
    passengers, try to do it as they are entering your vehicle. The reason is
    simple: To greet them as a customer and send a subtle message to them : "I see
    you - you see me - I can identify you and I acknowledge you as a person as I do
    me". It makes it harder for them to want to hurt you. When you don't even bother
    to look at them, you send a message to them- you don't care about them, and that
    you are very careless and unaware. I cannot empathize enough how important it is
    for you to make eye contact with each and every passenger. Your life may depend
    upon it!

    Know the area well.

    One of the key causes of disputes and arguments is in not knowing your way
    around the city and taking your customers by the wrong route. This will get them
    angry, and disputes can quickly turn into assaults, or worse. It is very
    important that you study and remember all the routes and streets so that you
    minimize any negative action by the customer.

    Trust your instincts.

    All your life while you grew up you learned things and stored the experiences
    in your mind. These learned experiences make up our "data" banks. These banks
    provide us with knowledge and understanding. These banks are what causes your
    "instincts" to react. These reactions are very real. Your gut instinct will be
    right 99% of the time. Listen to what your body is telling you!

    Know emergency procedures

    Each taxi company  and limousine company has in place a set of emergency
    procedure rules, for use in different circumstances. These rules vary from
    company to company and you must make a sincere effort to learn them. They are
    not there for the company, but are for you and your personal safety. Learn what
    the trouble call signals are, learn where each emergency button or switch is on
    the vehicle that you are driving. Each one may be in a different location in the
    vehicle. Check the locations of the switches out each day as you enter the cab,
    so you remember where they are when you need them.

    Always keep your windows  up..

    I do not mean all the way up, just open enough so that you can speak to
    people and get air, but they cannot get their hand through the window to grab
    your hair or body and yank you out of the car or bang your head against the
    glass to stun you. This will allow you to have constant fresh, clean air, but
    yet be safe at the same time.

    Always keep you doors locked.

    This is extremely important if you are sitting at a stand, or on the street.
    Often you may be reading a paper or book while waiting for that next trip, and
    you sure don't want someone to come up beside you on foot without you noticing
    them and jerking open your door and attacking you. This also provides you the
    method to force the customer into the rear seats if you wish, or to ensure they
    sit on the right side of the rear seat, not behind you if at all possible. The
    idea is not to be taken by surprise.

    Be extra careful late at night

    The most dangerous hours for you to operate in are between 6:00 pm in the
    evening and 6:00 am in the morning. In particular, the darkest hours between
    12:00 midnight and 04:00 am. Most assaults and robberies committed against taxi
    drivers occur during these late hours. At this time of the night, there a few
    people around as witnesses, and many of your customers will have been drinking,
    and liquor always causes trouble. And of course we all know, most criminals
    prefer to conduct their business in the dark hours. Even though these can be
    your most tiring hours, you cannot afford to be careless and unaware. You must
    maintain a high state of alertness during these periods of time.

    Be aware of passengers who give you "vague" instructions

    It is of utmost importance that you insist on your customer giving you a
    "fixed destination" as to where they are going, before you start driving away.
    Write it down on your "trip sheet or log". Some customers may say, take me to
    "whatever" street or give an uncertain destination. If they say, take me to the
    corner of Water and Anywhere, try to make them give you an exact address.

    If they are unsure and balk, read this as a sign that you should be very
    alert to what they are up to. If they tell you to "just start driving - we will
    tell you the way", this is a classic danger signal to you. Just simply do not
    move and politely advise them that the "company's policy" requires you to get an
    exact address.

    Then when they do give it to you or what is alleged to be the address, use
    your radio to advise the dispatcher of the destination address. This will serve
    three purposes: it will alert the dispatcher you have a problem, it will appear
    that you are telling the truth about company policy, and it will give the
    passenger the understanding that your dispatcher and others know where you are
    going. If the passengers still refuse, then do not give them a ride!

    Should the passengers suddenly direct you to take a different route or turn
    here-turn there routine, this is a danger sign and you should immediately alert
    your dispatcher to the change of address. Your level of danger alert should be
    very high at this time.

    Be careful of passenger seated behind you(Primary danger
    Zone)

    Never let passengers sit directly behind you, if at all possible. This is
    your primary danger zone. 80% of all assaults and homicides are launched from
    the seat directly behind you, the driver. You cannot see behind you. Ask the
    person to move over to the right side of the seat, use any excuse , i.e.: to
    balance the car, company policy, or whatever you need, but politely get them to
    move. Buy a convex rear view mirror that replaces or fits over the regular one.
    This will allow you 100% back seat visibility. It also sends a message to the
    customer that you can see them. Keep visual eye contact through the mirror,
    especially if you are suspicious. Do not stare, just enough so they are aware
    you are keeping an eye on them.

    Keep an eye on suspicious passengers

    Depending on the risk level that you have assessed your customer at, you want
    to keep some type of watch over them while they are in your taxi. When you feel
    very uncomfortable or suspicious of your passengers then make absolutely sure to
    "keep watch" on them. Your body and mind are telling you to pay attention to
    these individuals so listen to them and do so. We must always, of course, be
    diplomatic and mind our own business in most instances when we have passengers
    who we consider very low risk.

    Never tell customers you had a good shift

    Never, never, ever tell an inquiring customer that you have had a good day
    and made a lot of trips or money. If they ask, use a little white lie, like for
    instance "I only got started an hour ago and its been pretty slow., or "it's
    really been dead today, you are the first ride in over an hour." Be polite, but
    evasive. Most people just want to make conversation, so they say "how is your
    day going, making a couple of bucks today" or "Have you been really busy, I hope
    so." Many people mean well, they know you work long, hard hours, and they are
    sincere in hoping you are making out all right. On the other hand they may be
    "feeling you out" to see if you are worth robbing. Gently try to change the
    subject without being impolite or nasty.

    Carry a spare key

    It is a good idea to have a spare key for the taxi you drive, get them made
    if need be, and carry it in your left pocket by itself, not on a chain. Should
    you be robbed, what will probably happen is that the robbers will rip out your
    radio mike so you cannot call for help, and may throw your keys away if they do
    not steal your taxi to make the getaway. They think by doing this they are
    depriving you of mobility. It is most unlikely that they will search you other
    than looking for your wallet and money. This way, should they leave the taxi, or
    dump it a short distance away, you can get it going after they have left in
    order to get assistance or press your emergency button. It also will prove it's
    value the day you lock yourself out of the car while getting a cup of coffee or
    whatever.

    Never, ever, drive into alleys or back lanes

    Never do this if at all possible. Tell your customer that company policy
    states "no back lanes or alleys". Some persons want you to go there for one
    reason: to get you out of sight where they can assault or rob you. If you must,
    then back into the alley, or lane, do not get out of your taxi, use the push
    button control to pop open the trunk if need be. Keep your vehicle running, in
    drive gear, and keep your foot on the brake pedal. This way if things go bad you
    can simply step on the gas and get out of harms way. Make the passengers get
    their own beer or whatever from the trunk. Do not exit the taxi - if you do you
    give them the chance to attack you. Once you are away from the area, you can
    stop, get out and close the trunk lid.

    Know your location at all times.

    This is very important to be able to tell someone where you are in case you
    get into trouble. Nobody can help you if they do not know where you are when you
    call for help. I suggest that as you drive, make a mental note of each street
    you turn onto, read the street signs. The last thing you have seen is what you
    remember. For example: north on Maryland, east on 2nd, west on West Drive.
    Besides, it helps you learn the geography.

    Never take more than 4 passengers

    This is a major safety factor for you. In most taxi areas , 4 persons are the
    maximum that you are allowed to carry, and in some areas, only 3. You must
    remember, the more people in the car, the more there is to beat up on you should
    they choose to do so. If you are allowed to, try never to allow people to sit in
    the front seat, unless they are Special Needs Persons and have a wheelchair ,
    and persons with guide dogs, as it is much easier for them to access the front
    seat area.

    Encourage the use of credit or debit cards

    You may think this is a silly idea, but it is not. In today's society credit
    cards and the new debit cards are being used more and more. By encouraging the
    use of them you cut down on the amount of cash that you carry, but people who
    use credit and debit cards usually tip better when they use the cards.

    Eventually, very little cash will change hands and this is the way of the
    future, with new meters being developed and already some are in place to handle
    all cards. The use of cards is increasing every day, so why not take advantage
    of it? It will provide more safety for you and on top of that, will get you more
    gratuities or politely put "will increase your earnings". Besides, you don't
    have to collect on the "paper" your owner does while you keep the cash.

    Do not be aggressive or argumentative.

    This type of behaviour will always cause you a lot of grief, and may help
    escalate a minor disagreement into a violent confrontation, with you being the
    loser most of the time, and even if you win, you could be charged by the police
    for assault should the customer complain. Stay calm and controlled.

    You cannot think if you lose control.

    Keep calm - do not panic

    Yes, this is easy to say, but hard to put into practise. It is most important
    that you stay as calm as possible. Be afraid - sure, we all are at one time or
    another. But, we must call on our innermost resources to stay calm and in
    control of the situation to a point. An easy way to do this is to say to
    yourself - "I have a family waiting for me at home - I can get out of this!"
    Think about your family in a positive manner, this will build inner strength and
    courage and will help you to temper your actions. Just keep saying to yourself -
    "Stay calm - I can get out of this!" It is most important that you keep this
    mindset as it will help you stay calm.

    DO NOT RESIST a robbery (co-operate)

    The best advice we can give you. Offer no resistance - just comply with the
    bad guy. If you resist you are going to escalate the situation drastically and
    you will be (not may be ) injured or even worse, murdered. It is just not worth
    it. We know you worked hard for that money, but a wise man is one who lives to
    work another day. If you get stabbed, shot, or beaten around the head, you will
    be severely injured, perhaps crippled for life, or dead. You will be of no
    assistance to your family, but will become a liability. Remember, what the
    robber wants is your money, maybe the car. Give it to him, even put the mailbox
    off the street in the trunk if he wants, but do not resist.

    Try to stall

    Most bad guys are in a rush. They know that time is on your side, not theirs.
    They want to do the deed, and get out of there, so they will not be seen or
    caught by anybody. We suggest that you comply with the demands, stay calm, and
    as we call it "walk the bad guy through" just as if it were a regular
    transaction. Tell him that you will comply, keep a steady quiet voice, do not
    show fear or beg, ( this could trip off some type of persons who love to
    dominate others). Tell the bad guy that you are going to give him the money he
    wants, and tell him what you are doing each step of the way. Tell him your money
    is in your pocket under your jacket - before you reach for it. we do not want
    him to think we are going for a weapon. Tell him there is no need to harm you,
    you will comply with his demands. Pretend that he is just a regular customer,
    you are giving him change, and sending him on his way. They will yell and scream
    at you to hurry, so don't be too slow, just careful. Talk quietly to him in a
    complying manner, but not too timidly.

    Communicate with your dispatcher

    When the robbery is finished, or you are able to, immediately call your
    dispatcher with the trouble code, your call sign, and your exact location. You
    want the world to know where you are, especially the other drivers on your radio
    channel so they can help you. If you are able to, without being noticed, trip
    your emergency button or switch on the taxi. This will alert others that there
    is a problem. It is most important that your give your location in a very clear,
    concise matter, so that you are understood by all. If they cannot understand
    you, how can they help you!

    Do not threaten

    In your taxi, you must maintain control at all times of both yourself and the
    situation at hand. Never ever threaten any person with violence if they won't
    pay, can't pay, or are acting up. If you do this, you will most probably provoke
    a most unpleasant occurrence in which most cases, you will be the loser. You can
    always work your way out of a problem or harm if you think it out first. If you
    lose your temper, you lose control, and that is when you get into trouble.

    Look for an escape opportunity

    As in any situation, for example Defensive Driving, we must always be
    preparing an escape route or plan. If you are being robbed, think about it
    without showing any sign of it to the robber. It is a move of last resort, so
    plan it carefully. Then, only if you can do so without injury to yourself, make
    your move. Try to do it in a populated, well-lit area, like an intersection, a
    store lot, anywhere there are people and lighting. Remember, it is an action of
    last resort. It is good sometimes when you are idle, to think through ideas of
    this nature under different circumstances, so that if you should need to act,
    then you may have some idea of what to do.

    Memorize the suspect's description

    When the attack or robbery is finished, immediately take pen or pencil and
    write down everything you can remember about the suspect, so that you can make a
    good witness for the police. Try to remember these details: sex, race, age,
    height, weight, hair colour and style, eye colour, scars or tattoo's, body
    marks, glasses, facial hair, voice - high/low, accented , ethnic, stuttering or
    other voice defects. The clothing, jacket, shirt, pants, shoes, and last but not
    least the type of weapon used, and exactly what the suspect said to you. If you
    can do this while your memory is fresh, it will greatly help in the apprehension
    of the suspect and his conviction. These bad guys do get caught more often than
    you believe, through good descriptions provided. We want to send a message to
    the world that we will do everything to catch the person and convict them for
    what they have done to us.I teach driving lessons in Rubery Birmingham, Northfield Birmingham, Selly Oak Birmingham, Selly Park Birmingham, Longbridge Birmingham, Bartley Green Birmingham, Rednal Birmingham, Barnt Green, Lickey End, Quinton, Birmingham, Driuds Heath  Birmingham, Kings Norton Birmingham, Cotteridge Birmingham, Kings heath, Maypole Birmingham, Bourneville Birmingham, Harborne Birmingham, B29,B30,B31,B32,B45,B46,B47,B48,B60,