As more taxi drivers are using dash-cam footage to protect themselves in case of a crash, cabbies are being warned about spies on two wheels recording their every move.
The message comes after ‘sneaky’ cyclists have recorded taxi drivers and other professional drivers doing things that they shouldn’t – even briefly touching their mobile phone while at the wheel – and sending the clips to police.
The Licensed Taxi Driver’s Association has been told of a number of incidents of cyclists secretly recording taxis, including one in which a driver received a fixed-penalty notice for six points and a £200 fine for an offence he didn’t remember committing.
The London cabbie was adamant that he hadn’t been stopped by police for using his phone while driving his black cab. It was only when the evidence was shared with him that he realised a cyclist had recorded him holding his phone – even though he wasn’t using it.
Recent changes to the Highway Code mean drivers are liable for a £200 fine and six points on their licence for merely touching a mobile device or similar device. And motorists, pedestrians and cyclists have been quick to report incidents to police, with a 25% increase in video submissions since the Highway Code was updated last year with tougher penalties for using mobile phones at the wheel.
The incident occurred while the taxi driver was stopped in traffic and a cyclist began speaking to the driver about stopping his vehicle in a cycle box. Throughout the conversation, the cyclist was recording the cabbie, who was holding his phone.
LDTA executive Lloyd Baldwin told the organisation’s Taxi Newspaper: “The member emailed the video to me. What I watched showed just how sneaky these cyclists can be.
“Our member is sitting in Sloane Street traffic, northbound at the lights with Knightsbridge. A cyclist drives past and has a look through his driver’s window. The cyclist saw that the cabbie had his phone in his hand. The cyclist carried on, but then reversed back and started a conversation with the cabbie about how a car had stopped in the cycle box.
“Obviously, the cabbie showed no interest and gave him a look of ‘so what?’. Little did he realise, the reason for the conversation was so the cyclist could film the member up close and report him to the police.”
Lloyd recognises that the taxi driver admitted he was in the wrong simply by holding his phone and wanted to use it as a warning to others.
He said: “Of course, the cabbie was unknowingly guilty and will have to face the consequences, but it goes to show you can never be too careful. I may sound like a broken record, but I know what damage these six points can do to a cabbie.
“So please be careful. In my experience, 90 per cent of reports made to the police are from cyclists.”
Having points on their driving licence can affect a taxi driver’s taxi insurance and can also lead to sanctions from the relevant licensing authority, depending on the nature of the offence.
For road safety and to avoid prosecution, it is better to leave your phone alone while at the wheel, even if you are stuck in traffic. As this incident shows, a split-second lapse could have major consequences for your livelihood.
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