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January 10, 2000
City/Taxi Industry decide on safety measures
  
City and taxicab industry representatives decided today on a number of measures
in an effort to improve the safety of Toronto's approximately 9,000 taxicab
drivers.

The new safety measures agreed upon for immediate implementation include:

- the establishment of two work groups - one comprised of drivers and the
second of taxicab owners and brokerages - to determine cost sharing options for
safety measures

- the circulation of a survey on preferred safety measures to those in every
licensed category in the industry

- the enhancement of the driver safety component of the new refresher course
for owners and drivers

- the inclusion of safety tips in every issue of the industry newsletters Cab
Connection and Taxi News

- a second meeting of city and taxi representatives within one month to review
the information developed by the work groups and the results of the survey.

"The challenge for all of us - that means drivers, unions, dispatchers, owners,
the police and other levels of government - is to come up with a series of
effective safety measures," said Harold Bratten, Acting Executive Director,
Municipal Licensing and Standards. "This will take all of our best efforts
because there is no simple solution. The will and commitment around the table
today makes me believe that a year from now, Toronto will have a much safer
taxi industry."

Recent reforms of the city's taxi industry include the introduction of a
mandatory refresher course for owners and drivers, which includes driver safety
training, and enhanced driver training as part of the new Ambassador Cab
program.

Existing driver safety features of Toronto's Licensing Bylaw include the
driver's right to refuse a trip to a passenger if they fear for their safety
and mandatory driver training courses in which drivers learn to recognize
potentially dangerous situations and understand how to protect themselves.

Background information

Taxicab Driver Safety

- Toronto's taxi industry is calling for increased safety measures in response
to the recent murders of two Greater Toronto Area taxicab drivers.

- In response, the City of Toronto has established an interdepartmental team,
under Harold Bratten, Acting Executive Director, Municipal Licensing and
Standards to reach consensus on new taxicab driver safety measures.

- Taxicab driver safety is on the agenda for the first Licensing Subcommittee
meeting January 24, 2000.

- In October of 1998, the Task Force to Review the Taxi Industry recommended,
among other items that, all taxicab drivers be required to take a refresher
course every two years with driver safety being a key component of the
refresher course.

- The six taxicab driver safety measures that are currently built into
Toronto's existing licensing and enforcement system are:

1. Right to refuse passenger (section 78)
Drivers may refuse unsafe trips including refusing to drive to unsafe, remote
or undisclosed places or refusing trips to unduly obnoxious or abusive
passengers.

2. Driver training course
Safety procedures and emergency response training are integral parts of the
city's three-week taxicab driver and two-month ambassador cab courses. Course
topics include driver safety, prevention of violence and robbery, dealing with
cash and effective communications.

3. Refresher course for owners and drivers
Driver safety will be a key component of the annual refresher courses being
implemented this year.

4. Emergency roof sign (section 32 [5])
Taxicabs may be equipped with an emergency roof sign that drivers can activate
at times of distress. The bylaw allows an emergency warning message of "HELP -
CALL POLICE" on the front and back panels of a taxicab's roof sign.

5. Contact with brokerage (section 79)
The bylaw states that drivers working through a brokerage must have their
radios on throughout their shift, allowing for continuous radio contact in the
event of an emergency.

6. Safety devices
Safety devices, such as security cameras, plastic partitions and cashless
(Interac) systems, may be installed in taxicabs.

The City of Toronto will provide ongoing support for and consultation with the
Taxicab Advisory Committee (TAC), an industry representative group whose
mandate includes driver safety and industry self-management.


Media Contact
Access Toronto
(416) 338-0338

 

 

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