By Pat Loeb
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A savage and senseless attack on a cab driver last week has prompted the Philadelphia Taxi Association to call for new safety measures for its members.
The association is also offering a reward for help in finding the driver’s attacker.
Freedom Taxi owner Everett Abitbol says the driver is lucky to be alive after the attack on Friday left him unconscious.
Abitbol (in photo below) says that, ironically, the driver was beaten while doing a good deed — returning a cell phone the attacker had left in his cab.
“It’s unfortunate that someone who went out of his way to return an object like this would then get beaten for it,” Abitbol tells KYW Newsradio.
For the Greater Philadelphia Taxi Association, this is a call to action. Association director Jeff Hornstein says he’s working with police and the Philadelphia Parking Authority, which regulates cabs, to improve safety for drivers.
“The penalties for beating a driver are pretty severe,” Hornstein says, “but the mechanisms for actually catching people are not where they need to be.”
He says driving a taxi is one of the ten most dangerous jobs, but measures such as a “panic button” that alerts police to a crime in progress could reduce the number of incidents, which he puts at more than a dozen a year.