Driving a taxi is a solitary existence, you are very much reliant on your own self, and in an extremely vulnerable position, with nobody to back you up or protect you. This leaves taxi drivers open to robberies and attacks.
With the increasing danger of being robbed or attacked when driving a taxi, there are some very simple procedures which can make cabbies less of a target.
For many cabbies, this article will be like teaching them how to suck eggs, but we all let our guard down at some point and can end up falling victim to unscrupulous ne'er-do-wells, intent on causing harm and distress.
So how can drivers protect themselves?
The first port of call is the blindingly obvious, door-locks. Keeping the front doors locked at all times, unless having to leave the vehicle to assist a passenger, should be second nature. Making sure the door locks in the front are fully functioning is also of paramount importance, again many drivers don't always realise that the front door locks have failed, especially on rental vehicles, so it's always worth checking.
Bringing the minimum amount of paraphernalia out to work with you is always wise. The less a driver takes to work, the less there is to steal. Does anybody really need a bag chock full of goodies in the vehicle with them?
This also applies to the contents of a wallet. Does any driver really need to come to work with a wallet brimming with cards or cash, or can a driver function with the bare minimum in that wallet?
Securing your work bag is important, if it cannot go into the boot of the vehicle then a simple Caribinier, securing the bag to the bulkhead of the vehicle can be a very useful deterrent.
Mobile phones and tablets are part of every taxi drivers arsenal in the quest to earn a living. Whilst these articles do have to be on display to some degree, nobody has to make it easy for any would-be thief. Simply moving the mobile phone holder from the side of the windscreen, to the centre of the screen or dashboard makes it extremely awkward for somebody to steal the phone, it's not fool-proof, but it can make a thief think twice.
Splitting money off into different areas of the cab can certainly reduce losses incurred, also having a second bag with nothing but some loose change and paper inside is always useful.
With the proliferation of gangs attacking cabbies, it is always a sensible precaution to leave a gap between yourself and the vehicle in front so as to be able to escape from potential trouble. Ultimately, whether a taxi gets damaged or not is irrelevant, getting yourself out of harms way is the priority.
Leaving the cab is a contentious issue, if somebody needs assistance then you are in a no win situation, however locking ones doors upon leaving the cab can be a real deterrent to an opportunist thief
When in doubt, trust your gut. If something looks as though it could be an issue, simply drive on. No amount of money is worth putting oneself in danger. There is no compulsion for a taxi driver to stop for anybody, regardless of the status of the for hire light, and there is no compulsion for a driver to accept a hiring when stationary but in transit, such as non-moving traffic or traffic lights. Therefore if somebody looks like trouble then drive on, a taxi drivers must always feel safe.
Finally, report every single incident, regaedless of how innoccuous. The more imcidents that are reported, the more chance there is of getting action taken to help protect drivers.
All taxi drivers have the right to work free from fear of attack and abuse, in the same way that bus drivers, tube workers and rail workers have that right.
Ultimately, apply common sense, be careful and keep the doors locked.