The operation of a taxi is unique. Unlike any other vehicle, the driver is constantly exposed to the risk of collision. Generally, taxis operate 24 hours a day in high traffic density areas. The average number of kilometres travelled by a taxi driver in the course of one year is approximately 64,000, or nearly four times the average distance driven by drivers of passenger cars.
Taxi drivers have to contend with many problems. In addition to operating their vehicle in continuous traffic, most taxis are equipped with two-way radios and meters which create distractions when driving.
Taxi drivers are:
- sometimes called to attend emergency situations
- urged by their passengers to hurry in order to catch a plane or to attend a meeting for which the passenger may be late
- exposed to and have to cope with unruly and sometimes intoxicated passengers
The resulting pressures require taxi drivers to have a high degree of skill in the operation of their vehicles and to have a thorough knowledge of the street systems so that they can plan their destination routes quickly.
Examination of the driving records of taxi drivers shows two things:
- Some taxi drivers have an exceedingly high incidence of collisions. This is attributable, in part, to the high exposure rate mentioned earlier.
- A more disturbing aspect reveals that taxi drivers are frequently charged and convicted for speeding and failing to obey traffic control devices.
While the higher involvement rate in collisions may be somewhat understandable, it is difficult to justify why some taxi drivers commit these offences with such frequency, causing them to lose, at times, their driver’s licence and their job.
Studies have shown that it is virtually impossible to pick up time in heavy traffic areas. Experiments carried out in other cities have shown that the time saved by a driver driving as fast as traffic conditions allow and disregarding other regulations, compared to a driver driving within the speed limit and observing all traffic rules, is a matter of a few minutes, scarcely worth the increased collision risk or the possibility of getting a traffic ticket.
In addition to holding a Class 4 licence, a person wishing to operate a taxi must obtain a Certificate of Approval or Criminal Records Check.
Suggested practice for taxi drivers
It is a good practice to check the condition of your vehicle before taking it out for a day's work. If you detect any defects or inoperative equipment, you shouldn't take the vehicle out until the defect or inoperative equipment has been repaired. During the working day, if you detect any malfunction in the safety equipment, advise your dispatcher of the nature of the defect. The vehicle should be taken in for repairs as soon as possible; if the defect is serious, you should not attempt to drive the vehicle. Have it towed instead.