Are there yet? Easy to grab

Back Seat Driver (The Freeman) - November 10, 2014 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines - As far back as I can remember, to get a taxicab, one had to stand at the edge of the sidewalk (at those places that had such structures) and extend their arm to catch the driver’s attention.  Fast forward to the mid-nineties and one cab company started to use phone-in service to deploy cabs to homes or commercial establishments to pick up passengers.  Fast forward to this year, cab companies have decided to use the power of the Internet to reach the growing number of commuters.

Cabs have partnered with companies that have decided to exploit the consumer’s addiction to online connectivity and launched a free to use app that will allow one to hail a cab through the Internet.  One such company has recently flaunted their service through a promotional fluffy, pink sedan. 

This service has revolutionized cab hailing.  All one has to do is connect their smart phones to the Internet, download and install the app, register with their preferred cab-hailing company, then hail a cab by tapping on the screen of their phones.  All subscribed, vacant cabs within a certain radius will then receive that request.  On their end, all they need do is respond to that request and they’ll be given basic info of the person requesting for cab service, including name, contact number, and their current location.  GPS service, available in most smart phones, help cabs locate the person requesting for cab service.  Once cab and hailer meet, they are off their merry way.

One may beg to ask, what has this got to do with motoring?  Good question.  As convenient as the Internet has made it for service to be exchanged between customer and cab driver, it has also made it very convenient for cab drivers to be online.  At those times when I have had to take advantage of this service, I’ve noticed that a good number of these drivers are busy fiddling with the smartphones they use for such service.  I wouldn’t really mind if this was for the sole purpose of communicating with their soon-to-be passengers.  Unfortunately, these cab drivers are finding the privilege to be eternally connected to the Internet as a chance to update and check their social media status every single chance they can get.

And as ludicrous as it is, I witnessed a cab driver take a ‘selfie’ while stuck in traffic and posting it on his Facebook account.  I mean, come on, what’s next?  Angling his phone a certain degree so when he takes his next selfie, it will contain an image of his passenger?

Let me assure you that I am not against this revolutionary service.  In fact, I enjoy the convenience of it.  I would just like to send this shout out to the proper channels that could help address traffic and possible privacy violations.  We all know there is a law the prohibits using mobile phones while driving.  And we all know how reckless and irresponsible many cab drivers are.  Combining these two is a disaster waiting to happen.

While still early, let us help find ways to keep cab drivers’ concentration on the road and not on their smart phones.  I hope there would be some semblance of a productive response from the sectors in government that are responsible for the implementation and regulation of this service.


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