Turkey: Istanbul taxis offered panic buttons

Taxis in the snow in Istanbul Image copyright AFP
Image caption Taxi drivers in Istanbul have welcomed the new security options

Taxi drivers in Istanbul are being given the option of fitting their cars with panic buttons and security cameras, it's reported.

The system is run by a private security firm and installing it will be voluntary, the Haberler news website reports. It's designed to have one panic button near the driver and another close to the passenger, with cameras inside and outside the vehicle. If the panic button is hit, the footage gets sent to a security centre - but it's up to staff there to decide what to do next. "If we think that the issue is important, we will alert the police department. If a driver needs medical assistance, we will call a hospital," says Erkan Guney, chairman of Evre Security, which runs the system.

The head of Istanbul's Chamber of Taxi Drivers says he'd like to see it in all the city's taxis to ensure both driver and passenger safety. Haberler notes that assaults on taxi drivers can go unresolved because there isn't enough evidence, but that the panic buttons may be especially welcomed by women passengers. The brutal murder of 20-year-old student Ozgecan Aslan in February caused widespread outrage in Turkey. She was attacked while travelling in a shared minibus in the southern city of Mersin.

Earlier this year, Uber, which runs a taxi booking app, brought in new safety features for customers in India after a woman said she was raped by a driver in New Delhi. The company added a panic button feature to the app, which contacts local police in an emergency.

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