Taxi drivers see upsurge in attacks
Source: Ireland Online
Taxi drivers are installing security cameras and electronic locks to protect against an upsurge in violent attacks from passengers, it emerged today.
The National Taxi Drivers Union said there had been an upsurge in attacks, with seven in the last six weeks.
“We’re concerned about the level of attacks on our members who are out doing an honest day’s work, ferrying people home,” said president Tommy Gorman
As a result, drivers are installing security cameras in their cars to record the faces of violent passengers. Others are installing electronic locks which allow them to safely hop out of the car with their troublesome passengers trapped inside.
“If there’s any hassle, I just drive to a garda station and ask them to get out and pay up, or else I’ll go in. It works a treat,” said one driver, who did not wish to be named.
Xpert, a new taxi company, which is launching in Dublin next month, will have security cameras in all of its 500-car fleet.
“That will be a great help. At least it will be on tape and the guards will be able to identify the culprits,” said Mr Gorman.
He added that it would also reassure passengers, who have been worried by some of the disreputable drivers that have entered the industry since deregulation in 2000.
The NTDU estimates there are between three and six serious attacks on taxi drivers every week, with most of them occurring in Dublin.
In one of the latest attacks, a 64-year-old driver was left with a burst blood vessel in his leg after two youths attacked him beside the Molly Malone statue at the foot of Grafton Street.
“He was waiting for a pre-booked fare at 1am on a Friday evening and when he wouldn’t take them, they got out and beat him. There was a lot of people watching but no-one intervened,” said Mr Gorman.
The man was treated for his injuries in Beaumont Hospital last month and has not returned to work since.
In another incident last year, a woman flagged down a taxi in Dublin and then put a syringe to the neck of the driver to force him to drive to where her boyfriend was waiting. He threw a pitbull terrier into the cab and took the driver’s money.
Mr Gorman said: “Most people who take taxis just want to get home safe and sound but there’s a small element that want to cause mayhem. And they do and it’s putting our members in fear of their lives.”
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