Some New York City livery cab drivers, often called to crime-ridden neighborhoods that yellow taxis tend to ignore, are being armed with bulletproof vests, says a Reuters report.

Citing some deadly attacks on the drivers the New York State Federation of Taxi Drivers distributed the vests on Monday and drivers started using them immediately.

Priority was given to drivers working the night shift in areas where statistics showed high incidence of attacks -- chiefly in outlying parts of boroughs outside Manhattan, the report says.

One dozen vests were donated by New York-based security firm Security USA, adding to another 20 or so protective shields that had been previously donated by retired police officers. The company donated the $400 vests after being contacted by taxi federation head Fernando Mateo, the report says.

The vests will not protect drivers from head wounds, but the group said the vast majority of attacks stem from knife attacks or gunshots to the drivers' lower back or side.