Cab companies vet drivers, but is it enough?

You’re supposed to feel safe in a taxi and not worry about getting home safely, but that wasn’t the case for two young women who police say were sexually assaulted by the same taxi driver.

Fifty-three-year-old Enio Tablas, a contracted worker for The Cab company, was indicted Tuesday on multiple counts of sex assault for two separate cases.

Both victims told police that Tablas offered them a free ride home after a night out on the town.

KHON2 News wanted to know if background checks are required for taxi drivers.

With over 800 drivers in The Cab’s fleet, all drivers must meet certain requirements in order to operate a taxi.

“That’s a place where you think you will be safe,” said Alana Peacott-Ricardos of the Sex Abuse Treatment Center, “you are just going from point A to point B.”

People use cabs everyday. They’re a way for people to get to the airport, or for those who have been drinking, to safely get a ride home.

But what about the safety of the two women who say they were sexually assaulted by a cab driver?

“We do ask the question of are there safeguards to prevent something like this,” Peacott-Ricardos said. “Are cab companies doing background checks?”

For The Cab in particular, the company requires three documents before you can drive for them: you must have a taxi license which is issued by the Dept. of Motor Vehicles, the proper insurance and, yes, you must have a background check.

“All drivers have to have the background check,” said Howard Higa, president of The Cab. “Any of the three missing, we cannot accept them into the company.”

According to the Honolulu Police Department, those background checks only go back two years, which Higa said he wishes would change.

“In my opinion, there are certain crimes or certain things that drivers have done in the past that should never be forgiven,” Higa said, “and I believe that the background checks should go further back … They should be five, maybe even 10 years.”

Higa said this incident will make his company be more careful, so something like this doesn’t happen again.

“It throws caution to the wind for our company, and quality control to monitor and watch and make sure we don’t have that type of situation happen in our company.

“As far as cab drivers assaulting people, we haven’t seen very much of that,” said Peacott-Ricardos. “This is not some kind of a trend we are seeing.

“One of the things we frequently emphasize is that, if you’ve been drinking, call a cab,” she said. “That’s a safe way to get home, so I don’t want people to be afraid to call cabs because they think they are going to be assaulted.”

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