Janet Lee

Janet Lee
Photo:Janet Lee, injured by a taxi partition.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Automobile Interior Partition Use Objective


Automobile Interior Partition Use Objective


It is critical that it be established; just what is the objective of using a partition in a taxicab or a police cruiser?

We know that using a partition in a police cruiser has the objective of ‘keeping prisoners from access to the front seat area’. There is no concern about robbery and little concern that a frisked, disarmed, seat-belted prisoner might try to assault an armed police officer. The partition prevents prisoners from attacking the officer while seated in cruiser.

The original objective of using a partition in a taxicab was to keep drunk passengers from grabbing the steering wheel.Those early rules also decreed there had to be a partition separating driver and passengers, to stop drunks from grabbing the wheel.”, according to Robert Hardman, a London, England reporter in a 2012 news story. http://www.iol.co.za/travel/world/europe/save-the-london-taxi-please-1.1438442

Partitions have served well to protect operators from rear seat interference in cruisers - if the prisoner has been properly restrained with seat belts after being disarmed and hand-cuffed. There are, however, about 300 incidents over ten years where a cruiser partition has failed to keep a prisoner from driving away with the cruiser. So, there are failures with the current cruiser partition design.

The objective was quietly changed, in 1968, when partitions were offered for taxi use in the US. Passengers were provided a switch that could prevent the driver from opening the window It is stated by Checker Motors in their patent application; “feature… offered in New York and Washington – “ lock with which the passenger can keep the movable panel closed,if he is apprehensive of being robbed or attacked by the driver.”
The New York Times, Saturday, August 17, 1968 - Page 37

I do not recall any rash of attacks by drivers against passengers.

The objective was changed, again, when in 1968, NYC started requiring cab owners to install partitions in their cabs. This time the stated objective was to protect the driver from bullets, hence the bullet-resistant panels.
The New York Times, Thursday January 30th, 1969

Of course the likelihood of a rear seat occupant pointing a gun at the driver, either through the partition window, or around the partition, aiming at the side window to the front - is high. The partition disinclines assailants from using the less deadly weapon “the knife”. Partitions do NOTHING to preclude an attacker from using a gun to shoot the driver. Murder rates actually increase with partition use.




The New York Times,
Saturday, August 17, 1968 - Page 37
Taxi Partitions

            The Checker Motors Corporation, Kalamazoo, Mich., received a patent this week for its Safe-Guard Cab, which has a robbery preventing partition between the front and back seats.
            …one feature… offered in New York and Washington - a lock with which the passenger can keep the movable panel closed if he is apprehensive of being robbed or attacked by the driver.



New York Times
Thursday January 30th, 1969

Cab Robberies Drop

A factor, owners believe, was the installation of partitions between the driver and passenger of all fleet owned taxicabs last September.
The 4,600 cabs owned by individuals were not required to install partitions because 60% of assaults and robberies occur between 9 P.M. and 6 A.M. and most owner/drivers tend to work during the day.
            The fleet owners are hopeful that the decline will continue and that more drivers will be attracted to the industry, particularly for work at night
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