Cab Cameras

Reporter: Bryan Seymour

They're the most complained about vehicles on our roads; cabs and tonight you'll see why 74% of us say taxis fail on all counts. They are filthy, hot and often commandeered by a driver who doesn't know where to go.

"The surveys show dissatisfaction has never been higher," Allan Fels said.

Today tonight enlisted frustrated owners in Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney to install our cameras and record their drivers and their passengers.

"They get terrified of what can happen because they've seen it happen to their friends. People have had their eyes punched out, people who have been stabbed, people who have been shot. Two guys in particular who will never experience it again because one had his throat cut so his head almost fell off and the other guy was run over by his own taxi by a few girls who went to prison for a couple of years," Michael Jools from the Australian Taxi Driver's Association said.

The president of the Australian Taxi Drivers Association, Michael Jools is more than aware our cab industry has a reputation problem. He told reporter David Eccleston during a ride last night that cleaning up the industry is paramount but its not always the drivers at fault.

Just another day at the office for this driver and the passengers who don't care about drinking in his workplace.

"Thirteen bucks an hour without holiday pay, without sick pay, without any entitlements is a lousy wage. If that's all you're getting, you're going to get monies for the peanuts that you're paying and that's part of the problem," Jools commented.

Many would need a knife at their throat to work like this for thirteen dollars an hour - this driver got one.

"I want to make sure that taxi driving is a relatively safe occupation. It's meant to be that an employer has a responsibility to provide a safe working environment for his work staff, but we're not employed. We're sub contractors, we're nobodies. It's our problem," Michael Jools said.

It's a problem that can and does result in death.

53-year-old Youbert Hormozi was violently beaten by two 14 year old girls. He died of a heart attack shortly after. These teenage cousins thought it would be fun to steal his cab for a joy ride - they walked free.

"I didn't tell them how it was done, but I certainly told them that a naughty man had taken their pop's life away," Robert Woodger said.

Robert Woodger, grandfather of ten, was brutally murdered in 2007. Police found his taxi abandoned and covered in blood, then found his body in a nearby canal.

A 25-year-old chinese student was found not guilty of the murder due to mental illness.

"How do you think you could overnight cut the problem out?" reporter Brian Seymour asked.

"We could have multiple cameras in the cab and outside the cab recording video which is 24 frames a second with audio overlays all the time that a cab is on the road," Jools suggested.

The main complaints about our taxis are poor street knowledge, bad driving skills, rudeness, refusing fares is a big problem, so too lack of cleanliness and poor English.

"We are going through a classic corner of kings cross at the moment; Ward and Bayswater. The drivers at night have to come this way because there's no other way effectively out of the Cross. They turn their lights off, they wind their windows three quarters up, they lock their doors because they are frightened of getting a drunk aggro passenger, but it's against the law so we're told so I've got taxi drivers who have been fined for failure to pick up a passenger and accept a hiring," Jools said.

The main things causing drivers distress are physical attacks, brutal verbal abuse and poor pay and conditions.

"A lot of people focus on the driver, in many ways the driver is on the bottom of the taxi food chain," Allan Fels said.

Former ACCC chairman professor Allan Fels has been appointed to chair an inquiry into Melbourne 5,000 strong taxi force.

"There are many excellent drivers, people who've been in it all their life and do a great job. The proportion of drivers that lack knowledge and are unmotivated to serve you well is rising and is of concern," Fells commented.

"They fear for their safety, they're physically worried and personally worried that they're going to get bashed," Fells said.

That taxi inquiry will soon be calling for public submissions. David Eccleston our reporter, Bryan Seymour was the producer.

Story links:

Facebook page for taxi complaints

Http://www.facebook.com/group.php?v=wall&viewas=0&gid=105959410042

Australian taxi drivers' association

www.tda.net.au

If you have a complaint about a taxi, visit:

Transport NSW:

www.transport.nsw.gov.au

Transport Victoria:

www.transport.vic.gov.au

Transport Queensland:

www.support.transport.qld.gov.au

Transport WA

www. transport. wa.gov.au