Safe home II

27Apr10

So creepy taxi driver is still on the road – but not for want of effort on my part.

I was shocked and freaked out when I got into the house, so much so that I rang my friends to tell them what had happened, just to make sure I wasn’t overreacting. Judging by their horror and concern, I was not.

Next day, I did some research and discovered the best thing to do was report him to the Taxi Regulator. Filling in the form, I found myself doubting the report. Was it really all that bad? I mean, he didn’t touch me or anything, right? Were they going to laugh my complaint away, think I was silly or making a mountain out of a molehill?

But then I thought about the other women who have to get into a taxi with that man every night of the week. Someone less aware than me, less assertive, or god forbid, less sober… what would have happened to them? How many barely conscious young women get tossed in a taxi by their equally inebriated mates every weekend and trust that they’ll get home safely? Too many to count, and too many to risk not reporting this creep.

I posted the letter and felt a sense of relief, and a little pride. I’d done the right thing, even if nothing came of it. But just a few days later, I got a call from an Inspector at the Garda Carriage Office. I was stunned to get a response so quickly, and the Garda was so horrified at what had happened – and so thankful that I had reported it – that I was convinced that I’d made the right move. The driver would be brought in for questioning, he said, and unless he could prove that it wasn’t his cab I was in, his licence would be revoked.

Such a simple, effective process – so fantastically efficient, so brilliantly favouring the victims of inappropriate conduct. I was amazed at how quickly it was resolved and how easy it was to stamp out this kind of behaviour. A few weeks later, I got another call – the driver was brought in (along with six similar cases) and though he didn’t admit to acting inappropriately, he didn’t deny it. According to the Inspector, that’s good enough for the Gardai. The driver said goodbye to his licence, and me and my friends cheered and celebrated.

I should have known, though, that it would never be so simple. Fast forward another few weeks and I get a call from my favourite Garda inspector – the driver has lodged an appeal against the revocation of his licence. I have to go to court and give evidence against him to make it stand – am I prepared to do that? Damn right I am. I tell him I’ll do whatever it takes, and he tells me the court date is set for April 12.

Just at the nervous anticipation set in about facing this guy again, telling the court what had happened, and questioning the whole episode all over again – the 01-666 number flashed up on my mobile yet again. Bad news, said the Inspector – there’s been a delay in the court proceedings, and the date has been postponed indefinitely. I can tell by his tone he’s as pissed as me, and as he apologises for the inconvenience he also promises to keep me up to date with what’s happening. For the first time, I feel hard done by.

But I didn’t think for a moment that it would turn out like this. I’ve been informed that the driver is taking a case in the High Court against the Carriage Office and its procedures, claiming that the initial suspension of his licence was unfair – and until the case is heard, a stay has been granted on that order and he’s back on the road. So for the next 18 months, while the case crawls its way to the High Court, this driver will be on the roads, free to harass and proposition women… and God knows what else. When it gets there, I pray the Carriage Office will come out on top, because surely the word of the victim is good enough when it comes to granting suspensions?

The worst part, for me, is that I don’t get to stand up and tell people what this man did and why it wasn’t ok. Which is why I finally got around to writing this post. There’s nothing I can do (is there?) to get his licence taken away, nothing more I can do to protect other women from the same horrid experience I went through. All I can do is look twice at the face of a taxi driver before I climb in the cab, and let as many people as possible know that these kinds of dangerous people are out there, and we’re trusting them to take us home safely.

Please, everyone – take the number of the taxi sign before you get in. Check the driver’s name and make sure the face matches the ID card. Let someone know you’re getting a taxi home and text them as soon as you get there. Unfortunately, that’s all we can do to protect ourselves – because this shitty loophole means that sleazes like that driver can do whatever the fuck they want.

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One Response to “Safe home II”

  1. You have my sympathies – the last two or three years for me have been an education on the Irish Legal system (such as it is), from the minor issues of housing disputes to the rather more serious matters of divorce (thankfully, not my own). The unfortunate and horrible truth is that this sort of loopholery is prevalent throughout the system. Even discounting the waiting list to just get your claims processed, the level of delay that to even begin proceedings that can be caused by a single party is shocking. I can see the devil’s advocate in it – don’t destroy someone’s life until they have been proven guilty – but that there remains inadequate protection for potential future victims is disturbing.


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