With an eye toward protecting cab drivers at night, when about 80 percent of violent crimes against cabbies occur, a Seattle city task force is recommending tiny surveillance cameras on the dashboards of all taxis, and a fare increase for the first time in a decade to help pay for other changes, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer reports. The recommendations also include requiring more safety training for drivers, installing global positioning satellite technology in the 15 percent of Seattle cabs that do not already have it, and giving drivers more discretion to turn away passengers they sense could pose a danger.
The task force was created after a cab driver was found in January slumped over the wheel, shot dead, and robbed after he picked up a couple of passengers at a restaurant parking lot. In response, fellow cabbies staged a brief strike. Debbie Duggan, a Yellow Cabs driver who served on the task force, said that the attackers would have thought twice about pulling the trigger had they seen a little camera pointed at them. Violent crimes against Seattle cab drivers are rare — occurring only once every 37,500 trips. But looked at another way, a significant number of cabbies — 6 percent — are robbed or assaulted each year. Given the high concentration of crimes that occur at night, swing-shift drivers face an even higher risk of running into trouble. If Seattle does require security cameras in taxis, it would join a growing number of other cities taking the same step. San Francisco, Minneapolis, Vancouver, B.C., and the province of Manitoba have either installed or are in the process of installing the cameras, and Las Vegas and Atlanta are considering doing so. Washington, D.C., requires taxis to have cameras, partitions between the driver and passengers or a light atop the cab when the driver is in trouble.