Audit chiefs urge mandatory training courses for taxi drivers

Audit calls for compulsory courses, but taxi union says it would get in way of drivers' work

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 18 April, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 18 April, 2013, 4:39am


Audit chiefs have called for compulsory training courses for taxi drivers after it emerged that cabbies on average commit speeding offences 51 times more often than bus drivers and eight times more often than minibus drivers.

But a taxi union rejected the idea, saying it would hinder drivers' work.

The latest audit report tabled in the Legislative Council yesterday showed that taxis clocked up more than 1,700 speeding offences per 1,000 vehicles last year - a 37 per cent increase over 2011. This compared to 217 for minibuses and 34 for buses.

The report called for pre-service training courses for taxi drivers, imposing a maximum speed and installing electronic data recording devices, speed display devices and speed limiters.

The Transport Department said it had prepared a set of service standards for taxi drivers and would consider practicable measures to enhance safety.

Taxi Dealers and Owners Association president Ng Kwan-sing said the government should instead do more to curb illicit discounting that encouraged cabbies to drive fast to get more fares.

Drivers come and go and many of them work part-time. Such training would be a barrier for drivers to work
Taxi Dealers and Owners Association president Ng Kwan-sing

"Drivers come and go and many of them work part-time," Ng said. "Such training would be a barrier for drivers to work."

The report - which reviewed road safety measures - also urged police to buy more breath test devices to prevent drink-drivers walking free or being charged with lesser offences because of delays between taking roadside tests and more stringent tests that could be used in court.

The report said 53 per cent of drivers arrested for drink-driving escaped full justice as their alcohol concentrations had dropped by the time evidential breath tests were taken in a police station.

It said delays of up to 90 minutes were experienced in getting them to a station with a functioning machine. Of the 744 suspects arrested for drink-driving from January to October last year, 182 were released and 215 charged with a lesser offence.

The police force said it would now conduct weekly checks on the devices and would look at streamlining arrest procedures.