Lawmaker Wants Taxis to Have a Back Seat ‘Panic Button’

May 19, 2015 | Prachi Gupta

After a woman was horrifically raped in the back of a taxi in Brooklyn, one New York lawmaker wants to institute a “panic button” that will allow backseat riders to flag an emergency. Proposed by Councilwoman Laurie A. Cumbo (Brooklyn-D), the button would appear as a yellow or green tab on the screen in the backseat of a taxi.

However, upon further examination by the New York Times, it’s not clear that this button would be helpful.

For one, such incidences in cabs are rare in New York, according to one expert. In fact, it’s the cabbies who are most often at risk:

Officials from the industry and the Police Department said that the number of driver assaults of passengers was low, and that more often it was drivers who were the crime victims. Taxi drivers and chauffeurs are more than 20 times as likely to be murdered while working than are those in other professions, according to the federal Labor Department.

And two, the button is likely to be abused, which would waste resources:

Bhairavi Desai, the executive director of the New York Taxi Workers Alliance, said that the bill would criminalize drivers, and that a passenger who was intoxicated or shuffling luggage could accidentally press the button.