For taxi drivers in many big cities, life on the streets can mean long shifts, short tempers, low tips, and high risks, says the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Cabdrivers do one of the most dangerous jobs in the U.S. because they are rolling cash machines that make easy targets for robbers on the hunt for fast money. Taxi drivers face one of the highest rates of workplace violence, behind only police officers and jailers, said to a 2001 study by the Bureau of Justice Statistics. From 1993 to 1999, the study showed, 128 cabdrivers out of 1,000 were attacked. American cabdrivers are 60 times more likely to be murdered on the job than other workers, according to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.
No regulations bar cabdrivers from carrying weapons, said Michael Tully, director of St. Louis’s Metropolitan Taxicab Commission. Cab companies in Missouri set the rules for whether drivers can carry a weapon for protection. The approximately 2,000 licensed cabdrivers in St. Louis County have the right to refuse a fare if they perceive a threat to safety, Tully said. Taxi drivers typically don’t carry much cash in the front seat because more customers are paying with credit cards. The agency requires cabs to accept at least one major credit card. “If a robber were to attack a cabdriver, I think he would be lucky to get $20,” Tully said. He acknowledged that many cabdrivers in St. Louis have criminal records, but the commission carefully reviews applicants and checks with their parole officers before hiring them.