Taxi driver collapses and dies while taking woman to hospital

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 27 August, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 27 August, 2009, 12:00am

A taxi driver collapsed and died yesterday after telling his passenger he felt unwell and pulling over.

The driver, surnamed Lo, 61, was driving a woman to Baptist Hospital at 6am when he felt ill in Junction Road, Kowloon.

The passenger got into another taxi, and that driver alerted police. Lo was found unconscious and was declared dead at Queen Elizabeth Hospital.

Inspector Sin Man-yau, of the Kowloon West accident investigation team, said the driver's son confirmed his father had heart disease and high blood pressure.

Lo was the second taxi driver to collapse while carrying a passenger in the past few weeks.

On July 18, a 54-year-old driver collapsed and was killed at the wheel when his taxi rammed into a minibus in Repulse Bay Road. His passenger suffered minor injuries.

Taxi Association Federation spokesman Ng Kwok-hung said an increasing number of taxi drivers were collapsing on the job.

'There used to be about one case a year, but it has happened as often as every two months in the past year,' he said.

Mr Ng said taxi drivers were vulnerable to heart disease as a result of their working habits, which involved spending long hours behind the wheel and eating unhealthy food.

Most drivers were not aware they might be susceptible to heart disease and diabetes, he said. As a result, the federation has begun encouraging drivers to have medical checks, to ensure both their safety and that of their passengers.

Mr Ng said the tough economic times meant that many drivers were now working longer hours to make ends meet.

According to data from the Transport Bureau, there were 14 traffic accidents involving the physical fitness or mental status of taxi drivers in 2006, compared with five cases involving minibus drivers and two cases involving franchised bus drivers.

There is no legislation requiring professional drivers to have compulsory health checks, but drivers over the age of 70 who apply for a renewal of their full driving licence must produce a medical certificate to prove they are fit to drive.