Being a New York City cab driver is a dangerous profession -- they are easy targets for armed robbers, some of whom end up using their weapons against the drivers. But now they will have an extra layer of protection -- bullet-proof vests.
A dozen drivers who work in high-crime areas will wear the vests under a pilot program.
"One shooting is a lot and whatever we can do to help improve the safety of our drivers is something that we will do," said Fernando Mateo, president of the New York Federation of Taxi Drivers.
However, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said he thinks this is taking matters a bit too far. "I do not think they need to do that," Examiner.com has quoted him as saying.
Mateo's response? "Neither the mayor nor the commissioner drive a cab."
He said there are some 300 robberies and assaults against taxi drivers every month.
The program is in honor of a driver who was shot and killed in June. The vests are being donated by a company called Security USA. Mateo is also asking that retired NYPD officers donate their old vests.
Mateo created a bit of a stir earlier this month when he said drivers should think twice before picking up African American or Hispanic passengers.
"You know sometimes it's good that we are racially profiled because the God's-honest truth is that 99 per cent of the people that are robbing, stealing, killing these drivers are blacks and Hispanics," said Mateo, who is part black and part Latino himself.