PASSENGERS catching a cab ride in Billericay will soon find themselves watching more than just the passing scenery.
Many people might have spent their time on taxi journeys making small talk with the drivers, but now TV sets in the car will be there to attract their attention.
The new addition to many of the borough's Hackney carriages is being rolled out to try and help local businesses advertise to customers, but also has another role in protecting drivers.
Cab driver Mark Waller, who has been driving in Billericay for 13 years, said the new system would help drivers feel safer.
He said: "The system has its own in-built CCTV system, which keeps tabs on what's going on in the car.
"Most drivers have some experience of trouble with passengers, so this is a good way of keeping an eye on it.
"The footage is saved for 30 days and can be shared with police, so there's always evidence if something goes wrong.
"It also helps to protect the passenger."
Mr Waller, 57, said that the new screen which shows local advertisements, alongside feeds for news and weather, have already been attracting a lot of attention from passengers.
He said: "People find it really novel to have something to watch in the back of the cab.
"They all comment on it and, because the adverts are local, they get to see something that could be really useful to them.
"I sometimes have to wait for them to finish watching something before I can get them to say anything."
The system has been created and installed by Thurrock-based company Info-Cabs Ltd, and has already helped one local group.
Mr Waller, a father-of-three of Bunting Lane, Billericay, said: "We ran adverts for the last couple of weeks showing the Round Table fireworks display in Lake Meadows, telling people where to get tickets.
"It's obviously a very tough economic climate for a lot of small businesses.
"If this gives them a chance to show themselves off, then that's great news for them.
"And it's something nice for the customer and for us, so everyone stands to benefit.
"I really think the idea has legs."