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Philadelphia Taxi Drivers Plead For Better On-The-Job Protections

By Pat Loeb

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- Safety for cab drivers was the subject of a hearing today called by the Philadelphia Parking Authority, following a recent series of attacks that have left drivers injured and, in one case, dead.

Since May, when Hafiz Sarfaraz was murdered in West Philadelphia, drivers have been stabbed, choked, beaten, threatened, and shot.

Asim Kiani was at the hearing with his arm in a cast, the victim of a passenger who suddenly went berserk.

"He punched this way, on my face first, and then here," Kiani explained.  "I dropped to the floor and then he broke my elbow."

Kiani and dozens of other drivers asked Parking Authority board members for protections that would include a panic button to summon police, back seat cameras to inhibit crime or at least help identify attackers, and a disability fund for drivers like Kiani, who won't be able to drive for at least two months.

Board member Al Taubenberger says the Parking Authority -- which controls taxicab operations in Philadelphia -- is open to all options.

"They need a sense of security. And it really has to work because their lives will depend on it," he said.

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