Our trade has yet more potential rules and regulations to contend with as TfL has just released their ‘Improving PHV Safety’ consultation document.
We understand the mayor’s main priority within his transport strategy is safety for the public and other road users and this is a good thing.
But it would also be nice if some of his vision was about driver safety and rights. His vision has very little of this and you have to ask yourself why?
We almost hear every day of attacks on drivers from general verbal abuse to robbery and in most instances very little help from the authorities, even when the police are called.
Now, the main elements of the latest consultation are an: Advanced driving test / Vehicle signage / Hire & Reward insurance, as well as enhanced background checks.
We also expect further consultations later this year focusing on ride-share rules and PHVs Current Congestion Charge exemption.
ADVANCED DRIVING TEST – Clearly, we the GMB Professional Drivers’ branch are all about safety but is TfL using a sledgehammer to crack a nut?
According to latest figures under private hire vehicle casualties (Jan to Sept 2017) the total number of casualties was 503 with 473 listed as slightly injured.
We agree that one injury is one too many but let’s compare this to bus figures. TfL’s Latest figures suggest for 2016 that 1,523 people were slightly injured on bus travel
Most of you will also be aware that all London taxi drivers take an advanced driving test before passing out the Knowledge of London, and yes it’s time our trade has similar.
However we think any advanced driving test should be for new entrants to our industry. There should also be grandfather rights for current licence holders, unless an individual has a dangerous driving record or history of collisions.
Also, what about the cost? Most PHV drivers are now earning less then 15 years ago and as I suggested in my column last month, this rise in costs may be just another way to cull our numbers and force many of us out of the trade.
SIGNAGE – Next part of the consultation is with regards to mandatory vehicle signage, which will include ‘Wear your safety belt’, and ‘Look, out for cyclists’. Is TfL really suggesting that the travelling public are not aware of this law and that when using their own transport, never look out for other road users?
Other possible signage includes, “Who to complain too’, but surely that’s obvious. You contact the private hire operator whose details you already know. We also suggested a sign similar to those on buses that if you verbally abuse or attack a driver you will be prosecuted. Unfortunately, TfL does not seem to think PHV drivers count for much.
Another proposal is for our vehicle licence window sticker to be a different colour on each renewal. This is a good idea as it will help to prevent fraud and help identify touts.
And the proposal to display our ID on the windscreen is also a good idea, providing it only shows our licence number. It will also confirm the identity of a driver.
It may create problems though for fleet drivers who daily flip from vehicle to vehicle or drivers that rent.
INSURANCE – Hire & Reward insurance is also back on the consultation agenda, including fleet insurance.
Large operators such as Addison Lee have this for their own fleet of rental vehicles and this is clearly sensible. But to demand this for non-rental operator fleets is silly. Some small operators will not survive the cost of this folly and those that do will simply pass the expense on to their drivers.
And what about drivers who work for several operators – who’s insurance will they be under?
And instead of passing on any extra cost of insurance compliance and enforcement, why not use London’s blanket of cameras that is already used to show that our vehicles are licensed private hire and exempt from congestion.
ANPR is used to tackle uninsured vehicles and other criminal activity so it can’t be that difficult to add H & R if the vehicle is listed as a licensed taxi or private hire car.
REPLY NOW TO THE CONSULTATION
No point in moaning about how unfair something is if you have done nothing to try and prevent it. You will find the consultation under Improving Safety in Private Hire Vehicles on TfL’s online page (consultation.Tfl.gov.uk.)