The 13,000 members of the New York Taxi Workers Alliance are calling for support of the Taxi Driver Protection Act to increase the penalty of an assault on taxi drivers and require warning signs in the back of taxis. The bill is the first deterrence to be implemented in the taxi industry in more than 20 years. The alliance says the Taxi Driver Protection Act will help keep 100,000 taxicab, livery and black car drivers safe on the job.
A recent study by OSHA cites taxi drivers as being more than 30 times more likely to be killed on the job than other workers. When an injury requires drivers to take time off, drivers receive little compensation and in the majority of cases, must continue to pay their leases, according to the alliance.
Drivers work in isolation during 12-hour shifts, carrying cash and traveling to unfamiliar and sometimes remote destinations. Injuries suffered by drivers are severe, permanent and sometimes fatal, according to the group. Attacks also devastate drivers' families.
The protection the alliance sees is a matter of fairness, according to the group. Other states, including California and Illinois, already have similar laws to prosecute assaults on drivers as felonies. Pennsylvania requires warning signs. New York City bus drivers and subway operators are protected as assaults against them are prosecuted as felonies.