2013 has been a perilous year for the Hamilton taxi industry, as a string of headline-grabbing assaults on local cabbies enraged the community and sparked cries for greater protections for drivers.

To help cabbies ensure their own safety, Hamilton police hosted a information night on Thursday to arm drivers with tips to help them keep out of harm’s way.

CBC Hamilton’s Samantha Craggs interviewed several drivers in attendance about the dangers they face while cruising Hamilton’s streets. To hear their testimonies, click on the audio button in the top left corner.

Here are the safety tips police have for taxi drivers:

  • Always be aware of your surroundings, whether you are parked or driving.
  • Be aware of who is around you. Make mental notes/descriptions of who is in your cab.
  • Make eye contact with each and every passenger as they enter your vehicle.
  • Trust your instincts. Read signals given by the passenger such as nervousness and a lack of eye contact.
  • If at all possible, never let passengers sit directly behind you.
  • Ask your customer to sit to your right and explain that it is company policy.
  • Install a convex rear-view mirror. It will allow you to see most of the rear seat. It will send a message to the passenger that you can see them.
  • Park in well-lit areas.
  • Avoid being blocked into dead-end streets, alleys or laneways.
  • Keep your vehicle running — if something goes wrong, you will have a better chance of getting away.
  • Keep your windows up and doors locked at all times while sitting or driving alone.
  • Ensure all safety equipment is in working order.