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Panic buttons and cameras could be coming to Halifax taxi cabs

A review of the taxi industry is expected sometime next month
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After it was learned this week two more taxi drivers in the Halifax area are facing sexual assault charges, some are calling for more safety measures to be put in place to protect passengers.

A review of the taxi industry is expected sometime next month.

President of the Halifax Taxi Drivers Owners Association, Dave Buffett, said he hasn't had a chance to see the report but he believes changes are on the way.

"Nothing's confirmed until council rubber stamps it, but I and another board member of the association have been in talks with a consulting firm, and this month or early February, we'll actually be in-cab testing panic buttons for the passengers and cameras that are rolling all the time," he told NEWS 95.7's The Rick Howe Show.

Taxi safety advocate Amanda Dodsworth thinks the measures could make cab travel safer in theory, but some issues need to be addressed.

"There's plenty of women who might have had incidents with taxi drivers who maybe don't come forward immediately, so how long is that information stored for," she questioned. "Part of me just thinks it's kind of lip service to quiet the concerns of women who are voicing them loudly."

She added a panic button wouldn't likely help a woman who is incapacitated in some way.

"If you're in a position where you are intoxicated, are you going to know where that panic button is? Are you in the capacity to be even able to access it or pull it?"

Dodsworth would like to see all taxi drivers be required to go through mandatory sensitivity training that would include explaining the definition of sexual assault.

She believes many women would feel safer taking a taxi if they could have a female driver, however according to statistics provided to HailfaxToday.ca by Halifax Regional Municipality, only 41 of 1,463 licensed drivers are women.

"And I have personally requested a female driver before in the evening coming home from being out ... but was told there were no female drivers working at that time," Dodsworth said. "So I think that's also an indication of how safe those drivers feel. They don't want to work at night. They don't want to be in the downtown core."

Buffett would also like to see more female drivers, but agrees safety concerns may be a deterrent.

"I've been physically assaulted numerous times," he said. "I had a cut on my neck, a gun in my face, I've been punched."

Roof light licences, required to legally turn a vehicle taxi cab, are capped at 1,000 in HRM.

According to municipality spokesperson Brendan Elliott, the last person to be granted one had been on a waiting list for 15 years.

He added of the 854 people currently on the waiting list, only 28 of them are women.




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Meghan Groff

About the Author: Meghan Groff

Born in Michigan, raised in Ontario, schooled in Indiana & lives in Nova Scotia; Meghan is the community editor for HalifaxToday.ca.
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