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When A Taxi Isn't The Safe Way Home

PASSENGERS are being urged to play a key role in revealing inappropriate behaviour by taxi drivers.
An investigation by The Advertiser has revealed many alleged serious offences by cabbies in recent months, including sexual assault and drug use.
The latest case involved a teenage girl who said she had to jump from a moving taxi after allegedly being sexually assaulted by its driver.
However, the industry's governing body, the Passenger Transport Board, says it receives few reports of driver misconduct - only 900 complaints from the 7 million taxi fares taken in the year to July, 2002 - and wants the public to "dob in drivers" so it can respond.
"We take the issue of customer service very seriously," Passenger Transport Board executive director Heather Webster said.
"People should not be intimidated and think it's their word against the drivers.
"We have people trained to investigate such matters."
Amy, who did not want her surname published, sustained back injuries and lacerations when she jumped from a taxi in Green Willow Crescent, Happy Valley, after allegedly being sexually assaulted by the driver on her way home on a recent Saturday night out.
The 18-year-old said her usual "safe way home" had turned into a nightmare during the 15-minute trip from Marion to Happy Valley. She alleges the taxi driver propositioned her for oral sex.
Amy said she eventually jumped from the moving taxi when the driver passed her street and allegedly said: "You're not going home tonight."
Amy said she had immediately reported the incident to Sturt police and detectives were investigating it.
She said she had almost reached her destination, after catching the taxi at Marion Shopping Centre, when the driver told her she could provide oral sex in exchange for the fare.
"I said I would rather pay the fare. I knew he was serious by the way he then grabbed my hand and pulled it to his lap," Amy said.
"I was frightened - it was disgusting."
SA Taxi Drivers Association president Tony Blight said he would be lying if he said there were not drivers in the industry who "tried it on".
"Anyone who uses their role as a taxi driver inappropriately or for criminal practices would not get any sympathy from our association," he said.
"If we in any way lose the public's trust to deliver them home safely, we might as well pack up and go home."
SA Taxi Association president Peter Lithrangomites refused requests to comment on Amy's claims.
Complaints about the behaviour of taxi drivers can be made by phoning 8210 1000.
People reporting issues should know the number of the taxi and the company for which it is operating.

Adelaide Advertiser 25-1-2003
Bryan Littlely

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