Taxi Drivers Troubled After Another Shooting

David Huynh-Driver
David Huynh-Driver

(KHNL) - Cab drivers say they know their job can be dangerous, but there are ways to protect themselves. The best way -- turn down the customer.

"You can make money everyday," said one longtime cab driver. "You can earn money every day, but you make a little bit less."

"You're bringing in the customer, or people you don't even know, you don't know what their agenda is," said Howard Higa, president of TheCab.

One of his drivers was shot in the neck Friday night at a bank near Pearlridge Shopping Center. The driver was reported in critical condition. It's the second time one of his drivers was shot. On July 6, Manh Nguyen was one of three people shot and killed at Tantalus.

"To have another incident like this, certainly everyone's distraught about it," said Higa.

Higa says safety procedures were reviewed after the Tantalus shooting, but there may be more training for drivers in the future.

All 600-plus cars owned by TheCab are on a GPS tracking system. All cars are also equipped with an emergency button that sends a warning to taxi dispatchers, who in turn alert police. Higa says the button was not pressed in either incident.

"No matter how technical the type of equipment, or how sophisticated equipment you have, there needs to be a human interaction," said Higa. "If there is no interaction, then it doesn't matter."

The one sure way for drivers to stay safe is turning down customers they don't feel comfortable to be around.

"It's at their discretion," said Higa. "It's their call. It's their life."

Higa says his company has about 6 robberies per year. He says the emergency panic button is used a couple times a month, usually on customers who are mad or drunk.