Nova Scotia

Mandatory dashcams for Halifax taxi drivers would help keep everyone safe: driver

David Buffett, head of the Halifax Taxi Drivers Owners Association, says "regrettably," the best way to ensure passenger safety in taxis is to record the vehicle's number.

Police charged a taxi driver with sexual assault this weekend

Dave Buffett says if it was part of the licensing requirements that taxi drivers have dashcams, there could be some inappropriate behaviour deterred. (CBC)

One Halifax cab driver says making dashcams a mandatory item for vehicles could help improve safety, for both drivers and passengers.

This weekend, police charged a taxi driver with sexual assault after a woman reported being touched in a sexual manner and kissed by the driver without her permission.

It's the sixth reported such incident in two years, a number the president of the Halifax Taxi Drivers Owners Association says is far too high.

"One is far too many, six is incredibly high. It's really, from a personal viewpoint and from that of a professional driver, it's just more than I can imagine. It's just devastating," Dave Buffett told CBC's Maritime Noon.

'Far less likely'

Buffett said having dashcams record footage while a driver is on shift is "not 100 per cent foolproof," but would almost certainly deter some inappropriate behaviour.

Drivers who would do something inappropriate would certainly think twice.- Dave Buffett

"If dashcams are mandated so that we don't have a choice in the matter, drivers are going to be far less likely to say or do anything inappropriate," said Buffett.

"And if a condition of licensing is that we have to sign a waiver that the city or city representatives … can stop us at any time and say, 'I want to view your dashcam, I want to view the footage,' then it will certainly provide a level of more comfort for the passenger. And drivers who would do something inappropriate would certainly think twice."

Buffett said he knows drivers who have purchased a dashcam for as low as $100, with the higher-end models costing several hundred dollars — a cost he said is worth it, and not high considering taxi insurance rates and the cost of gas.

Education could be key

As for background criminal checks, Buffett said they are focused on local records, not necessarily international. He added the best way to deter inappropriate behaviour may be education.

"For me it's astounding, it's absolutely astounding, that any adult would not know that's inappropriate. Absolutely astounding," he said.

One is far too many, six is incredibly high.- Dave Buffett

"But we do have a multi-national driving pool and there are drivers from areas where that might not be as unacceptable as it is in Canada, and there's where the education component is necessary."

In the meantime, Buffett said an unfortunate reality is that people should take note of the taxi roof light number once they get into the vehicle.

"Regrettably, I really suggest very strongly that they greet the cab driver with his route light number. So, 'How are you this evening roof light 123?' and then the driver is at least aware that this person knows a little about the industry and there is a reporting procedure in place."