One day on a street in Central London, I was very surprised to see a black cab with an LED advertising screen on its roof. Wow, I (being Chinese) thought, the British are starting to join in the fun too with their taxis. In China, this kind of advertising light box is found throughout the big cities. Not just on top of cars but inside too displayed on the windows.
The most interesting part of these LED taxi screens, for me, is the alarm function: the taxi driver can, at the push of a dashboard button, make the LED screen display “I’m being robbed, call the police.” This feature really works too – according to a news report in 2009, a taxi driver, Mr. Liu, in Beijing, threatened by four men armed with knives in his cab, pressed the emergency button. Police followed and rescued the driver successfully.
Of course, care does need to be taken not to use the alarm accidentally. This seems to happen more often than the genuine emergencies do. Once, a taxi displayed its “I’m being robbed” message and police gave chase. Barriers were set up in the middle of a motorway only to turn out that the driver had pushed the emergency button by mistake. Whoops! And not to mention another taxi driver, who hit the alarm button to try to get out of paying tol!
I don’t know if the London taxis have alarms for their LED roof screens or, if they do whether they are being used properly. Let’s see what will happen. Maybe it’s a topic for a future blog post.