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Philadelphia Taxis May Be Required To Install Distress Signal Lights

By Mike DeNardo

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- Philadelphia taxicabs may soon be required to have distress lights indicating the driver is in trouble.

They're already being used on the streets of New York, and flashing "trouble lights" could soon be mandatory on Philadelphia cabs -- to alert the passing public that a driver is possibly being attacked or robbed and needs help.

The Philadelphia Parking Authority, which regulates the city's taxis, has begun drafting a rule that would require trouble lights, according to PPA deputy executive director Corrine O'Connor.

"The taxicabs in Philadelphia have a dome light on top of the roof, so we decided not to have that additional light on top because we don't think it would have been seen.  So we're going to look to put the distress lights in the front and rear grille," she tells KYW Newsradio.

Any new rule would also need a public education campaign.

"Obviously, if you don't know what the trouble light is, then there's no real point in it," notes  Dave Alperstein, executive director of the Greater Philadelphia Taxi Association.  "The trouble light itself will flash when activated.  And also, we are trying to have not just the dispatch alerted but also the police."

Alperstein says some Freedom Taxis in Philadelphia already have trouble lights installed.

O'Connor says it will likely take six or seven months before any new regulation is finalized.

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