Cab Safe, part 1.

So, there’s been a few questions about using taxis, particularly alone and as promised, as we start to get out and about more here’s the first couple of top tips to kick off Cab safety week.

1. So, there’s been enough publicity about this, particularly in cosmopolitan cities like London, but if it’s not a licensed cab it’s a strangers car. Booking it through a reputable company is best as it produces a record. However that’s not always practical, so if you find yourself somewhere unfamiliar (when we can find ourselves somewhere unfamiliar, without incurring two weeks of quarantine on our return, or the prospect of being patient zero for the next fun lock down) then do your research beforehand and check out which cabs in that city can be hailed or taken from a designated rank. Government websites (eg in London https://tfl.gov.uk/campaign/safer-travel or in Sydney https://transportnsw.info/.../safe-travel-in-taxis-hire...) are the best source although granted in London they don’t tell you how to make non-committal conversation with black cab drivers about football or the weather, and speaking as a Pom in Australia we can’t pull off addressing the Prime Minister here as ‘Sco-mo’ so don’t even try. (I have a Yorkshire accent which makes putting an ‘O’ on the end of everyone’s name -an Aussie trait- slow my speech down and sound like I’m having a stroke: but I digress). Try to forward plan enough to book a cab from a place of safety, like the house, restaurant, or bar you’re leaving from and if you do have to wait in a public place don’t take the opportunity to become absorbed by your phone. Criminals love routine and they know people get bored and look for distraction when they’re waiting. Don’t make it easy for them: look up, look around.

2. If it’s a booked cab, get THEM to tell YOU the name it’s booked under, not you telling them. Unless they’re Derren Brown they’re unlikely to guess and make sure you’re not displaying a work name tag proudly, or ‘Trisha’s hen party’ spray painted across your top. Kind of gives the game away, unless of course you’re not actually Trisha. You could be John, in which case you’ve obviously had quite a night.

Okay that’s all for now. I’ll be adding more each day so share, comment let me know your thoughts or drop me a line for any queries. Stay safe.

Part 2 of Cab safe week:

So, in the yesterdays post I covered best practice using a licensed taxi on the street like black cabs in London or Silver service in Sydney or booking one through a reputable firm so a record is made of the journey; and the importance of getting them to confirm your details when they arrive so you know they're not an unlicensed 'tout' trying to coerce you in. Here's todays couple of top tips-

1. Travelling in a taxi is a transaction of trust between you and the driver (they get attacked as well) so don’t get straight in. Present yourself at the front window, whichever side is safer with traffic and make sure you see their face and vice versa. This demonstrates good awareness on your part a willingness to see them and to be seen. Look for formal identification as well -should be prominent and on display- and don’t be afraid to ask to see it if you can’t. It might be just positioned badly but predators often rely on a victims reluctance to be firm even rude in their interactions, in order for them to gain compliance. In some circumstances this reluctance can have devastating consequences (see this autobiographical account by Debra Anne Davis as an example https://content.utne.com/.../commu.../betrayed-by-the-angel/). Again, if they're professional they'll understand and have no issue showing it to you and if they don't then that should be a red flag to getting in.

2. Note the number plate of the car- take a picture if necessary and explain that it’s part of your personal safety plan to the driver. I’m aware Uber send the number plate and driver to you but it’s good practice not to rely or trust others to do your security for you. If nothing else it demonstrates good awareness to the driver and that you’re a situational awareness Ninja who can’t be preyed upon. Send this and any other details to a trusted 3rd party (more about that in tomorrows post).

That's it for today. Like and share if you think others would benefit and comment any thoughts. Stay safe.

Part 3 of Cab Safe week. 

1. Okay so after a particularly long night even the most well groomed cabs can smell a bit funky, especially if it's been used almost exclusively to convey drunks and half eaten kebabs all over the place, which is understandable. But you don’t want Charlie Sheen driving you home either so if you think that smell of alcohol is coming less from the car and more from the driver, or he appears less than 'alert' either through, shall we say, 'medication' (it happens) or fatigue, don’t get in. This is another reason to talk to them through the window before getting in as you might get a heads up from their breath, speech, general demeanour or the fact the car smells like Bob Marleys clothes hamper.

2. Regardless of any of the above; if it doesn’t feel right, don’t get in! Intuition is the single most effective weapon you have against danger and is hugely underrated. It’s not using ‘the force’ or paranoia. It’s the flow of unconscious information from the left hemisphere of the brain to the right if you really want to know the Biology behind it. Cops call it a coppers nose, a hunch, gut feeling or whatever and they trust it for a reason. Better to be wrong once about a bad feeling and never know, than be right once and have to live with it.

That's our two for the day, please like, share or comment with any thoughts. Stay safe.

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Part 4, Cab Safe week.

So, slightly longer couple of top tips today as I'm going to outline the importance of having a 'buddy' system in place. The principals of having a trusted 3rd party check up on you are not just applicable to travelling in cabs but for any journey being negotiated alone so it's worth having in place for any vulnerable situation.

1. Most modern cars will automatically lock the doors as you pull away, however a pre-planned intention to hold you captive is a pretty big red flag, therefore check for the child lock being on in the door. If you can’t see, use your phone torch otherwise you’re essentially getting into a mobile prison. They can vary in their function but practice on your own car so you know what to look for, or at least look at a video on YouTube showing the position it should be in. Again don't let social pressure dictate your personal safety. Checking isn't suggesting to the driver that you think they're a potential rapist and if they're professional they shouldn't take it that way, it's demonstrating that you're situationally aware enough not to be an easy target. And if it is on, don't just attempt to turn it off and then get in. Personally I wouldn't trust 'I just forgot' as a reasonable excuse by the driver. Look for another way to get home.

2. Have a safety system with a trusted 3rd party elsewhere and make sure they’re able to facilitate it (not asleep, or blind drunk them-self, upside down behind the TV. I joke but my point is don’t choose someone who’s less compos-mentis than you). Send them all the details of the cab you have and an estimated time of arrival (ETA). Have an escalating contingency plan if you lose contact. (Eg for a 30 min journey- check in by 3rd party at 15 mins- if no reply 3rd party to make call- No reply check in again 5 mins later- no reply, call the cab company and ask to check their ETA- If significantly past ETA and cab company cannot confirm location, call Police and explain full situation giving as much information as you can or have been sent: on that point, don’t be afraid to call the Police. They’re awfully nice people and as long as your call is in good faith, they’ll decide on what action to take).

That said, phones lose signal, batteries die, people miss calls, so don’t panic which is why it’s a gradual escalation but sticking to a practiced plan is important. Coppers love contingencies, it’s our favourite word (well, that and Donuts) but they’re useful for anyone.

Whatsap and other personal safety apps run tracker settings but they can lag behind and are not foolproof so don’t rely on them. Having a system or an agreed time of arrival is even more important if you don’t have a phone or you’ve dropped it down the toilet (has happened to someone dear to me who’s name I won’t mention), so if you can; borrow a friends phone or the venue you’re leaving from to initiate the system before you set off, and don’t deviate from it if you can’t update the 3rd party on route- unless you want to cause chaos by having half the local constabulary/law enforcement setting up road blocks everywhere. You don't have to follow the suggestion I've made exactly but whatever system you have must be agreed and stuck to with your assigned 'buddy.

Stay safe.