Part 9 OSHA Safety Tips For Cab Drivers: No Room For Guns

Larry Pratt

Three years ago, because taxi drivers are 60 times more likely to be murdered on the job than all other workers, the Federal Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) said to the cabbies, in effect: “We’re from the government and we’re here to help you.”

So, to supposedly “help prevent injuries to drivers and speed response time to those who need help,” OSHA issued a fact sheet titled “Risk Factors And Protective Measures For Taxi And Livery Drivers.” The following safety measures were suggested:

    * Automatic vehicle location or global positioning systems (GPS) to locate drivers in distress.

    * Caller ID to help trace location of fares.

    * First-aid kits in every car for emergencies.

    * In-car surveillance cameras.

    * Partitions or shields.

    * Protocol with police to track high-crime locations.

    * Radios to communicate in emergencies (with an open-mike switch).

    * Safety training for drivers.

    * Use of credit/debit cards to discourage robberies.

But, these suggestions — though well-intended, no doubt — strike me as classic examples of using Band-Aids to try and cure cancer. I mean, we’re talking about people who, as cab drivers, are being murdered at an alarming rate.

So, since innocent human lives are at stake here, why not suggest that cabbies be allowed to keep and bear arms for self-defense? In an interview, this question was put to an OSHA official who was involved in drawing up her agency’s list of safety suggestions for taxi drivers. At her request (because otherwise she would not talk), we do not name her. Here’s what she was asked and what she said:

    Q: Why in your list of safety suggestions do you not recommend that cabbies be allowed to keep and bear arms for self-defense?

    A: Well, it was something that actually never even came to mind. But, even now that some people in the District of Columbia are suggesting this, we would never recommend that cab drivers be armed. I mean, that doesn’t even appear to be a feasible method of reducing the amount of violence that could occur.

    Q: But, why would this never occur to your mind since even just a little research would show you where, all across our country, cab drivers have successfully used guns in self-defense?

    A: Well, it doesn’t appear to me to be a way of reducing the violence. Instead, allowing cab drivers to have guns would seem to be a way to make it possible to create more violence.

This OSHA official says they did, of course, do research before their safety suggestions were issued. Yet they did not research how many cab drivers have used guns to defend themselves, to make themselves safer.

And then this OSHA official said something quite extraordinary.

    Q: But, what if you could be shown examples of cabbies who have used guns successfully in self-defense? What if it could be demonstrated to you that an armed cab driver is a safer cab driver? Would you be interested in such information?”

    A: (after long pause) I — I doubt it.

Now, this is a truly amazing and shockingly close-minded admission. You have an OSHA official who says that her agency wanted to “do something” to help make taxi drivers safer. But the one thing that really would make cabbies safer — allowing them to keep and bear arms — she opposes! In fact, she is so anti-gun that her position is, literally, don’t confuse me with the facts. Her position is that even if it could be demonstrated that an armed cab driver is a safer cab driver, she still wouldn’t recommend that cabbies be armed.

But about one thing this OSHA official is, probably, correct. If taxi drivers were allowed to keep and bear arms, there would most likely be (as she says), “more violence.” However, it would be the “violence” of self-defense. And the result would be that a lot fewer cabbies would be murdered.