A recent increase in homicides, taxi drivers, Anchorage, Alaska.
Homicide is now the second leading U.S. cause of occupational death, with 20 workers murdered weekly. Most are robbery-related. High risk work places include taxicabs, grocery and liquor stores, detective/protective services and gas stations. Risk factors include: exchange of money with the public, working alone, working late night or early morning hours. Taxi drivers had the highest national occupational homicide rate for 1990-92, 22.7/100,000/yr, 34 times the overall occupational homicide rate of 0.66/100,000/yr for that period. Prompted by three taxi driver homicides in Anchorage within 60 days (the latest April 7th, 1998), we analyzed available data on these homicides in Anchorage. Case data were obtained through the NIOSH Alaska Field Station occupational fatality database, direct investigation (e.g. autopsy, interviews) and newspaper articles. Workforce denominators are municipal transport office enumeration of taxicab permits and licenses. Three taxi driver homicides occurred in Anchorage between May 1993 and January 1998, three more between February and April 1998. All victims were middle-aged white males killed by gunshot to the head. Motive was robbery in four cases, unknown in others. Three occurred between 10 pm and 8 am, only one during daylight. The estimated work force is 610, giving an occupational homicide rate of 200/100,000/yr, 300 times the national rate. During the same period, only two other occupational homicides occurred in Anchorage, equivalent to 0.29 homicides/100,000 workers/yr. Anchorage taxi drivers have a very high homicide rate compared to other workers in Anchorage or taxi drivers nationwide. The reasons are unclear. Urgent action is needed to make this industry safer. Possible strategies include; bulletproof partitions, video cameras, and drop boxes or cashless systems.