• Wed. Nov 16th, 2022

Taxi drivers learn to deal with the dangers of driving a taxi

In interviews with more than a dozen taxi drivers around Boston on Thursday, many said they were just learning to live with the uncertainties of a job that ranks among the most dangerous – and stressful – occupations in the United States. United.

“I was born and raised in the city; I know people’s characters can be shady, or not shady, ”said John Lopez, who has been driving for 15 years. “You never know who you picked up, you know. Especially if they give you those long-term jobs, you never know if you’re going to get mugged or killed. It’s kind of a high risk.

A report by the Occupational Health and Safety Administration, based on statistics from 1998 to 2007, found that taxi drivers are more than 20 times likely to be murdered on the job than other workers.

Another report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics found that 27 taxi drivers were killed in 2015 – the fourth highest number of homicides of any occupation, behind only supervisors of retail salespeople, cashiers and police officers. and sheriff’s patrol.

Cammie Chaumont Menéndez, epidemiologist at the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, co-authored a 2017 study which found that the murder rate of taxi drivers remained high, despite an overall decline in violence at work from the mid-1990s to the early 2000s.

In an interview on Thursday, Menéndez said that taxi drivers are often more likely to be killed than law enforcement officers, and more likely to be murdered than killed in a car crash, despite the fact of drive for a living.

The work is dangerous, she said, as drivers carry cash, interact with unstable people and work alone, at night and in high crime areas.

Police say Luckinson Oruma, 60, a father of five, was killed around 11 a.m. on Tuesday in one of Boston’s busiest neighborhoods, after refusing to drive a man to Mansfield, about 35 miles away. of the. Phillip I. Foy, who allegedly pulled Oruma out of his cab and shot him nine times, pleaded not guilty.

KK Magloire, who has been driving a taxi for over 10 years, said there are many reasons why a taxi driver may refuse to take a passenger on a long trip. The driver may end his shift or have to go pick up family, he said. But the passengers are still angry, he said.

“They think ‘You’re mean; you deserve to die for it, ”said Magliore. “I’ve seen people disrespecting me, calling me the N word, and all that. I just ignore it, because I know better than that.

Oruma was the first taxi driver killed in Boston since 2005, when Heros Previlon, a 31-year-old Haitian immigrant studying to be a pastor, was stabbed to death by a passenger who attempted to rob him.

But every year in Massachusetts, one or two taxi or ride-sharing drivers are killed on the job, according to Jodi Sugerman-Brozan, executive director of the Massachusetts Coalition for Occupational Health and Safety, a worker safety advocacy group.

Last year, 75-year-old Uber driver Henry Miller was killed after being the victim of a car theft and brutally beaten on a street in Dorchester.

Gary Lavitman, a 49-year-old Boston cabbie who has been driving cabs for 30 years, said the job has become much safer since the 1970s, when drivers only carried cash “so the people knew we were an ATM. on wheels. “

“Some people are going to be on guard, but it’s fluke,” Lavitman said of Tuesday’s Back Bay murder. “It was very unprecedented. “

Lavitman said he was never assaulted and that the worst he has faced are passengers who run away without paying or cursing him. He said he was more worried about passengers vomiting in his taxi than being injured on the job.

“But some, if not all, drivers are carrying something with them just in case – a club, a bat, protective weapons,” he said.

Frantz Lormil, who has been driving a taxi for five years, said he, too, rarely worries.

“From 100 to zero I would say 95% I feel safe,” Lormil said. “The problems are, like, not that big. I don’t want complaints with customers. Everywhere we go, if we get paid, we feel safe.

Diamond Naga Siu can be reached at diamondnaga.siu @ globe.com. Follow her on twitter @diamondnagasiuMichael Levenson can be contacted at [email protected] Follow him on twitter @mlevenson.