Taxi drivers are threatened or attacked in Halifax more often than most people realize, one advocate said after a driver was assaulted over the weekend.
“It’s not always reported to police, there’s not always a lot of coverage, but I say once month, somebody’s going to get roughed up a little,” Dave Buffet, president of the Halifax Taxi Drivers Owners Association, said Sunday.
When your job is driving around strangers, being attacked is an inherent risk, he said.
“There’s no avoiding it,” said Buffet. “I know from time to time someone’s going to attack me, I think we all know that, and anyone who drives nights certainly expects it. It’s just a question of when.”
Just after 5 a.m. Saturday, Halifax Regional Police said a 49-year-old driver was attacked near the corner of Primrose Street and Victoria Road in Dartmouth by four male passengers he’d picked up in Halifax. Police said the suspects are described as three white males and one black male, all about 17-18 years old.
One of the teens attacked the driver with a knife and then they all began to physically assault him, police said, before they fled with some personal effects and money.
Buffet said drivers for companies like Casino Taxi and Yellow Cab have panic buttons in case of dangerous situations, where if a driver presses it “the dispatchers will spend a message that a driver is in trouble at this location and the drivers hurry in to help,” said Buffet.
As a taxi driver, he used to respond to several panic button calls a month but in recent years, drivers have been attacked less often, he says.
Buffet said he’s not certain why attacks have relatively “settled down,” but taxi drivers will still be attacked, no matter how many precautions are put in place. He added the current system of panic buttons and cell phones are the best way to protect Halifax’s taxi drivers from attack, but it’s important to highlight the incidents when they happen.