Driving cabs in London has always been a risky job – but you could say that it’s got even riskier in the last few years.
Cab drivers have been working on the streets of London for nearly three hundred years and although we now have the security benefits of CCTV and in-car cameras…
…it’s questionable whether today’s drivers are really any safer than our centuries-old forefathers.
Part of the territory that comes with being a cab driver in London in 2017 is having to deal with the asinine comments of customers, usually regarding how much they’re paying for their fare and how it would really be so much easier if we all just drove for companies like Uber instead.
I’m not going to spend the next few hundred words or so laying into the spoilt millennial generation that has overseen and supported the return to a form of near-slavery that I’ve no doubt they would strongly object to – that is, if they weren’t so intent on getting across London as quickly as possible to make their very important party.
I’m not going to do that because I believe that Uber drivers will be suffering from many of the same problems that we’ll also be struggling with.
I’ve been told before that us drivers have never had it so good. Pretty much every corner of the city is covered with CCTV so (theoretically) if we were going to be held up there would be a dozen or so cameras watching the perpetrator leave the scene, leaving a digital breadcrumb trail for the police to follow. Theoretically this makes sense. Unfortunately, in practice, the increased level of surveillance only serves to hinder cab drivers, rather than help them.
You see, surveillance works both ways. By all means it can aid the police to track down wrong-doers, but it also means that we’re constantly being watched for the slightest indiscretion and, thanks to our license plates, we’re always one wrong move away from endorsements on our all important license. Do you know how many points you get for failing to comply with a no entry sign? It’s 3 points and they can be the difference between feeding your family and making a trip to the food bank.
Of course, even if you do manage to evade the beady digital eye of the law, you’ll still be lucky not to run into an accident. London’s roads are busier than they’ve ever been. The population of the city swells every year with cars, motorbikes, cyclists and pedestrians all potential hazards. Whilst more people necessarily means more fares, in reality this just translates to less space, time and an increased risk of accidents.
Lastly, with more people comes more crime. Whilst London has intermittently been a fairly lawless place, statistics have shown that knife-enabled crime is now at an all time high. Many cab drivers, for their sins, still use predominantly cash, making the risk of highway robbery as dangerous (if not more) than it ever was in the pre-modern day.
So why do we continue to drive cabs?