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The headlines read:
– Hoboken man is arrested after allegedly beating driver, taking limousine after suspect’s offer of McDonalds was declined, 12/22/2010, The [Newark] Star Ledger
– Limo Driver in Hoboken assaulted by cabbie after letting pedestrian cross street, 1/24/2013, Hoboken Now
– Naomi Campbell attacks limo driver and makes a run for it, 3/3/2010, Today’s News NJ
– Man accused with attacking limo driver in Westwood, 11/10/2010, NorthJersey.com
– Man held in attack on limo driver, 8/04/1989, Philly.com
– ‘Jersey Shore’ bad-girl Angelina Pivarnick attacks limo driver, 10/9/2010, Examiner.com
– New Jersey Man Being Sentenced for Rape Assault on Limo Driver 6/25/2008, The [Newark] Star Ledger
– Jayson Williams gets 5 years for covering up Limo Driver Shooting 2/23/2010, DNA info.com
– New Jersey Limousine Driver Attacked by passengers, 2/18/2011, www.carsforstars.com
– Limo Driver alleges actor’s son attacked him, 11/17/1999, Highbeam.com
And those are limousine-related headlines just from New Jersey. The aggression against chauffeurs and drivers appears to be getting bolder and more frequent.
We read a lot about protecting the riding public. Transportation companies work hard to ensure their safety. From background to motor vehicle checks, operators are diligent in making sure that their clients are being driven safely. But rarely do we read about steps and initiatives to protect chauffeurs and drivers.
Given so many headlines, which took just minutes to find, this issue is real for the limousine industry and mostly unaddressed.
Lack of Training
In an informal poll, limousine operators were asked if protecting the chauffeur and ensuring his safety are included in their training. Only two out of 50 companies responded yes. As an industry, we are more concerned with how we treat clients and run vehicles than about the overall safety of the chauffeurs. Not all cases are alike. A percentage of the headlines above involved a driver who did or said something offensive or provocative to the passenger, proving that etiquette training goes with safety training. However, it’s not every day that we have Naomi Campbell, Angelina Pivarnick, or Michael Douglas’ son in the car. But we do have a daily chance of getting the angry McDonald’s dude.
The issue seems to be more blatant in the taxi industry where drivers pick-up strangers off the street and get paid mostly in cash. The Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) addressed the issue of homicides for taxi drivers in its white paper entitled, “Preventing violence against taxi and for-hire drivers” (source: http://www.osha.gov/Publications/taxi-driver-violence-factsheet.pdf). OSHA states that taxi drivers are 20 times more likely to get murdered on the job than any other worker. That statistic is staggering.