NEW YORK(CBSNewYork) — Taxi drivers in the city say they do not feel safe, but they are hoping that a simple sign will help.
Two months ago Sanjeeda Khatoon fought off an attacker on the Lower East side, and even tried to chase him down.
“He grabbed me here and said, ‘stop the car, stop the car, I’m going to kill you,’ and like that and I got panicked,” Khatoon told CBS 2’s Dick Brennan, “I grab him from the back, and asked people to come help me. Nobody came forward.”
The man got away, and Khatoon joined a long list of drivers who have been assaulted in their cars.
Manmun Il Haq was stabbed through a partition.
“It was so unbearable the pain because the knife was so squarely in my back,” Il Haq said.
One Bronx attacker jumped into a cab in hopes of carjacking it, and a Labor Department study said that taxi drivers are 20 times more likely to be killed on the job than other workers. Now, fed up cabbies want action.
“Not only do they not pay you, but they turn around and actually assault you,” Bhairavi Desai, New York Taxi Worker’s Alliance, said.
Drivers gathered to support a bill that required all cabs, including yellow taxis, greens, and liveries to post a sign in the cab that reads; ‘assaulting a taxi or livery driver is punishable up to 25 years in prison.’
“There is an exemption for the black cars, the fancy cars picking up the fancy folks, because they have demonstrated, they really haven’t had the security concerns so they wanted an exemption and we gave it,” Rory Lancman (D) City Council, Queens, said.
Khatoon, a Pakistani immigrant and U.S. citizen, still drives her cab no matter how scared she is so she can live her American dream.
“We don’t want to be on welfare, we don’t want to take advantage of the system, we want to work, and we want to work with honesty and heart,” Khatoon said.
The full City Council is expected to approve the bill on Wednesday. It will then go to the mayor for a signature.
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