Valuable tip for cabbies: Be careful


POSTED: Thursday, February 19, 2009


- Video by Rob Shikina

After cabdriver Oliver Gathing picked up two men who made him feel anxious, he ran a red light to flag down a police officer and get the men out of his cab.

;[Preview] Hawaii Cab Drivers Learn Safety Tips

To help prevent crimes, local taxi cab drivers gathered for a safety seminar hosted by the HPD.

Watch ]


  “;Turns out I was right,”; Gathing said, because other cabdrivers later told him the men had a bad reputation.

Police Lt. Britt Nishijo said Gathing took the proper precautions. Gathing was one of about 60 cabdrivers who attended a crime prevention seminar by TheCab for taxi drivers yesterday at Ward Theaters.

Nishijo, who gave a presentation at the seminar, said cab driving is the most dangerous job - when comparing homicide rates - in North America. There are 20 homicides for every 100,000 cabdrivers, compared with seven for every 100,000 police officers.

“;If you compare us to you guys, we've got a safe job,”; he said.

He suggested taxi drivers install cameras in their cars and a shield like in a police car to add a level of protection.

He also suggested cabdrivers look their fares in the eyes to show them that they are alert and to use their instincts to determine whether they are in danger.

He reminded cabdrivers to run away or scream when in trouble and to fight back only as a last resort.

“;If you need help, (then) say you need help and I'm sure somebody is going to call,”; he said.

Howard Higa, president of TheCab, said, “;The best solution for all of this is wear rubber shoes and run like hell.”;

Higa said he held the two seminars yesterday for the taxi drivers' safety. TheCab is Hawaii's largest taxi company, with 650 drivers.

In November a taxi driver for TheCab was stabbed and robbed after taking two men to Manoa. A 34-year-old man was charged in the stabbing and robbery of the driver, who had to be hospitalized. “;I'm not going to wait until there's another stabbing,”; Higa said. “;I want to do this before that happens.”;

Higa said about 80 percent to 90 percent of robberies against taxi drivers go unreported.

“;We have robberies almost every day,”; Higa said. “;As the economy gets sour and also as the drug trade gets bigger, the cabdrivers will encounter more of these crimes.”; He plans to hold more of the seminars to help all taxi drivers.

“;If we can save one guy from a knife poke, it's worth it,”; he said. “;The goal obviously is to get home safely at the end of the day.”;

TheCab cars are already equipped with panic buttons that alert dispatch of a problem when pushed.

“;It was good,”; said cabdriver Monica Mudell of the seminar. Mudell, who has been robbed while driving a taxi, said the tips were commonsense but helpful reminders for drivers.

She added, “;I would think it should be mandatory.”;