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Are our cabs safe?

Saturdays are sacrosanct and meant for my family. So are Sundays, but Saturdays are more about outing and I mean literally going out of the house. And mostly our plans are unplanned and more based on what my toddler wants to do that minute. Last Saturday was no different. An invite from my favourite sister in law, who is more my sister now, could not be missed.

Since the distance from our home to hers is more than 50 kilometers, one way, we decided to take a cab instead of driving down. Besides, after having woken up at 7 AM, followed by a Parents Teacher Meeting, followed by a visit to a bakery for a treat for my daughter and then getting the AC serviced, not to mention having lunch in between at home, left us with no reason to not agree on the luxury of a chauffeur driven car. It meant one and a half hour of nothing to do… wow! Such a rarity on weekends!

Good old Ola was summoned and I must say the driver and his route were both perfect. We reached our destination in a little over an hour which was record time considering it was Saturday evening. The evening was fun with a lot of laughter and catching up.

On our way back however, with daughter asleep on my lap and husband half asleep, I caught on a conversation with the driver who looked very energetic at 11 PM. A young lad, all of 25, he was more than eager to fill me in with the adventures of driving through the night.

While he relayed tales of how they ‘almost’ get mugged every other day by strange passengers and almost get killed on the road by other maniacs on four wheelers, I was shocked with this piece of trivia! Did you know that if you board a cab and the cab takes you around town in circles forever, their back office team does not track what is happening? For them the cab is on duty.

This came out when he got a frantic call from one of his colleague and close friend driving another cab who said four men had boarded his taxi in the morning at 2:30 AM from somewhere near the airport and then taken him around Gurgaon outskirts in circles for four hours and almost mugged him. He finally saw a group of men standing near a tea stall early morning and stopped the cab and jumped out. Thus our boy was saved. The four strangers ran away.

But are all so lucky? And what if this happened the other way round? What if a passenger was taken around in circles by some maniac? Equally terrifying, isn’t it? It set me thinking… While these cab companies do get a background verification done for their drivers, how do they control or check who boards their cab? Isn’t the driver’s safety important? Also, do they really not track a cab depending on the estimated time for dropping and the cab travelling way beyond it? My eager friend said, “We need to keep ferrying passengers as long as they want.” True but strange!

Trouble makers are everywhere. And no one is spared if they are given a chance. But some sort of surveillance on a vehicle enroute is required to ensure safety of both passengers and drivers. Just having a GPS alone will not help. Think about it.

Barsha Chakraborty is an entrepreneur & an HR strategist, based in Delhi. She currently runs Pietos Solutions, an HR Outsourcing company specializing in Background Verifications. Connect with Barsha on twitter @barshach

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