Monday 22 June 2015

In-Taxi-Camera...Good or Bad?

According to a recent blog post (Link) , the Land Transport Authority (LTA) has just announced that taxi drivers can now install in-taxi camera so as to deter potential troublemakers of both drivers and passengers. I'm not sure where they got the news from nor whether it's a confirmed fact.

Nonetheless, if it's true, to me, as a taxi driver, it's the best news of the day. I always believe that deterrence is the best form of prevention.

I think you have not forgotten how a cab driver was killed  by a Ferrari driven by a Chinese national, who beat a traffic light at high speed, another cab driver was slashed in an unprovoked attack in the early morning hours somewhere in Jurong,

........And another cab driver beaten unconscious by Korean male passenger who complained about his "lousy" taxi. All these incidents happened three years back.

Lately, there were at least 4 cases of drunkard passengers beating taxi drivers up after refusing to pay their fares.

In one of these latest assault case, a NUS assistant law professor Sundram Peter Soosay, was convicted for assaulting a 70-year-old cabby, Sun Chun Hua. He has been sentenced to 4 months imprisonment and ordered to compensate the victim $1,500.

There are many nasty taxi related incidents and assaults of taxi drivers that goes unreported in the main media. But in this facebook page "Stop Assaulting Our Taxi Drivers", you'll be horrified to read the many more horrendous stories of taxi driver assaults.

Those reported incidents might give the impression that cab driving is a hazardous job in Singapore.  I don't think so.

Why? Because at anytime, there are at least 15,000 taxi drivers on the road plying 200,000 passengers.

Most passengers are normal, decent and law abiding human begins. Only a few are douche bags. When faced with a potentially difficult and aggressive passenger, I humbly retreat and let them be the winner of the moment. The rest I leave it to fate to decide my destiny.

Having said that, I think any "measures" from the "G" to enhance the safety of both drivers and passengers or protect cabbies from attacks by aggressive passengers is a welcome gift, like this lifting the ban on in-taxi camera.

Previously, the LTA banned the in-taxi camera recordings citing the intrusion of privacy as a major concern. In Singapore, how much privacy do we have, anyway?. CCTV is omnipresent in many public places like shopping malls, bus stops, banks, schools, hospitals and also inside public transports like buses and MRT trains. Even unregulated private drones with telescopic lens are flying freely in housing estates.

Like it or not, "Big Brother is perpetually looking over our shoulders EVERYWHERE. So, where got privacy! ". 

Many households have CCTV at their front door too. Whether these household CCTV cameras are real or fake, most burglars would avoid such households that have one displayed. It, therefore, acts as a deterrent. So, the same principle of deterrent effect can be applied inside a taxi with a real or fake camera. Even a bold red sticker reading "CCTV On Board" might deter prospective criminals or aggressors of taxi drivers.           

If a real CCTV miniature camera is installed at an inconspicuous spot inside the taxi, the images or audio recording captured can be relayed through the GPS system to the taxi operator control center but not taxi driver who might use it for nefarious purposes. The facial images stored would certainly helps the police in any criminal investigations or provides audio evidence in case of driver/passenger disputes.

To allay commuters fear of invasion of privacy, only taxi company or the authorities can have access to the password-protected camera recordings. This visceral fear of taxi drivers is not surprising. Like elsewhere in the world, most Singaporean are wary of and don't trust lowly taxi drivers who scavenge for a living.

Now, regarding the in-taxi camera, the big question is whether taxi operator is willing to needlessly spend million of dollars to protect taxi drivers. Frankly, they are more concern of their bottom line than anything else. As long as rental is collected, they do not care how the drivers survive or care about their safety.

Everyone knows that airbags had saved thousands of lives since their introduction in early 1980s. To cut cost and maximize profit, the most despicable thing some taxi companies had done was instructing their taxi manufacturers to dispense with and remove the airbags of all their taxis before they landed in Singapore.

Cabby Cheng Teck Hock, 52 of the fatal Ferrari  accident might be alive today if COMFORT had not detached the airbag of his Sonata taxi. Is LTA aware of the evil and unscrupulous removal of taxis airbags or are they closing an eye while bedding GLC partners?.

Toyota Wish taxis of Transcab and Prime Taxi has airbags but not COMFORT taxis. What about SMRT and Premier?. In case you are inside a COMFORT taxi, try to avoid being a front seat passenger and if you are a COMFORT taxi driver, GOD BLESS YOU!.

COMFORT has installed in-vehicle camera facing the road solely to protect their interest in case of a traffic accident cum insurance claim and certainly not for the safety of their drivers. If cost overrides the safety of their drivers, perhaps COMFORT could be persuaded to spend just a few hundred dollars on cheap "CCTV On Board" stickers instead of a real camera for the sake of their drivers.
Take my money. Don't kill me!


Anonymous said...

I love your articles, cause during the Ferrari accident case, many people highlighted about the airbag problem which might have save that poor taxi driver who died at Victoria Street if airbags were installed in the Hyundai Sonata taxis. But all relevant authorities had turned a deaf ear to this case knowing that it will definitely concerned the profits of the taxi operators! Really very upset, to roll in more profits for the taxi operators but may just have killed more taxi drivers!

Even when Comfort had installed the camera facing the road, its all cheap cameras probably bought in bulks which breakdown every now and then. When approached the workshop, they said no stock for the new camera or camera cable. U r right, also maybe they just installed the cameras as a deterrent effect to tell the other accident parties not to claim insurances with just telling tales.

Anonymous said...

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Drew said...

I think it could definitely be a good thing. Great post, thanks for sharing!

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