An academic study carried out by an MSc transport, planning and engineering student, Moira Weir, at Edinburgh Napier University was based on a relatively small sample of 75 cabbies, and trade representatives have called for the findings to be taken seriously.
Weir found that 98% of black cab driver in Scotland has experienced fare dodging and 88% have encountered physical abuse. But cabbies in Edinburgh experienced a significantly higher level of violence and abuse.
Around 96% have claimed to have been physically or verbally abused by a passenger under the influence of alcohol and a further 67% have felt unsafe at work.
Some cabbies have avoided working nights over fears of their personal safety and the study also revealed that 94% of divers in the capital city refused to pick up a passenger in the past year.
Weir said, “I chose my research project because my brother-in-law is a cab driver and he and his colleagues have real concerns about the level of violence experienced.
“However, there was no actual evidence to back what they were saying up, so it was quite difficult to raise these concerns.
“I knew there were problems anecdotally but I didn’t realise the extent, particularly evening and night work, which get the worst of it.”
Weir explains that the sample she spoke to could handle drunk and disorderly men, but were concerned by women under the influence of alcohol.
“A major concern was how to deal with very drunk women who pass out in the back of the cab, and that can be very difficult. There can be misunderstandings,” Weir said.
Weir said that it was not unusual for passengers to tell the cabbie that they would leave their coat on the back seat and get the fare from their flat. However, when they didn’t return to pay, the cabbies would discover that the coat was actually stolen.
Passengers causing damage to their taxis was also pointed out as a major worry amongst drivers, as it unnecessary increases their UK taxi insurance premiums and stress levels.
A cabbie was quoted, “There was one guy who refused to pay the fare. On his way out he booted in the door. That is really bad as it means the taxi has to come off the road and I can’t make a living”
Another cabbie recalled: “There was one guy who refused to pay the fare. On his way out he booted in the door. That is really bad as it means the taxi has to come off the road and I can’t make a living”.