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Taxi app to improve safety of cabs and PHVs

Underside of a car having work done in a garage

Keeping taxis and PHVs in good condition reduces the likelihood of damage and injury, as well as keeping vehicles on the road longer.

Poorly maintained vehicles are not only more likely to break down, they can also cause serious accidents and damage if systems such as brakes, steering, tyres and suspension are not working properly. In cases where a crash is blamed on the condition of a vehicle, taxi drivers not only face a claim on their taxi insurance, they may also receive points on their taxi badge or have it revoked, as well as face prosecution.

Concerns

Concerns about vehicle safety have led Pendle Council to launch an app for taxi and PHV drivers to log the condition of their vehicles at the start of every shift. It comes after one unannounced inspection resulted in 93 per cent of vehicles failing spot checks. Two further inspections saw 11 out of 16 vehicles fail, and 10 out of 20.

Licensing officials also found nine vehicles with defects that would have been picked up on a daily walkaround, including loose wheel nuts, problems with brakes and brake lights, broken lights, damaged bodywork and tyre treads below the legal minimum requirement.

A report to the council said: “The results of spot checks on our licensed vehicles have been unsatisfactory for a number of years and despite many assurances that improvements would be made, the failure rate is still unacceptable.’’

“The evidence we have is that operators, vehicle proprietors and drivers have no routine vehicle checks for their licensed vehicles, as can be seen from vehicles failing spot checks on basic items like tyres, loose batteries, and missing wheel nuts. These faults should be routinely picked up and would be if daily inspection checks were carried out.”

Daily inspections

To address this, the £1-a-week app requires drivers to physically inspect their vehicle at the start of each shift and complete a checklist of key items such as brakes, wheels and tyres and bodywork. For operators with several drivers, a car could be checked more than once a day. The results are instantly logged with the council and taxi operator. Only vehicles that pass the checklist will be allowed to operate. Anyone who does not complete the checks or tries to cheat the system risks losing their taxi badge.

The council said: “The last spot check had a vehicle failure rate of 93.3% which is totally unacceptable and puts passenger safety at risk.

“There is an urgent need to make sure taxis are mechanically safe. The main recommendation is for the compulsory use of an app so that drivers can check the roadworthiness of their taxi before the start of every shift and that information must be sent to the council.

Accountability

“Both operators and drivers will have greater accountability for ensuring that each and every time a taxi goes onto the road it is safe.

“For those operators and drivers who regularly fail to properly maintain and operate their vehicle(s) we are proposing to revoke their licences because they are putting passengers at risk.”

The driver of every vehicle is responsible for ensuring it is safe and roadworthy before they set off on any journey and this is even more important when carrying passengers. The app will hopefully improve the condition of taxis and PHVs in the area and help make the roads safer for everyone.

This also means that drivers can spend more time earning a living than dealing with the car being off-road for repairs or because of damage that will result in a claim on their taxi insurance.

All information is correct at time of publication. Information provided within this article may have changed over time. No responsibility for its accuracy or correctness is assumed by John Patons Insurance Services or any of its employees.

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