Taxi owners are driven to brink.
IN the Great Slump self-reinvention stakes, the two most popular choices for alternative employment have been to take up taxi driving or landscape gardening.
As the leaves fall, and the ground becomes heavy with winter rain, the green-fingered option can now hibernate until the spring.
But taxi-ing is a different matter, and is wrongly seen as an easy option for those with a clean licence.
Such is the greed of local authorities to grab fees for unlimited registration plates, and of operators to profit from the settle (i.e. the charge for using the radio/renting a car etc.) that thousands of taxi drivers, classed as self-employed, are working excessive hours to earn a crust.
This puts customers'' lives at risk.
All that more responsible operators can do is warn drivers of the dangers, and, ultimately refuse to give them jobs.
But shockingly, there is no binding tachograph limit on hours, as for coaches and lorries.
A rethink is essential - and not just for taxi drivers.
The Institute of Advanced Motorists warns that many car owners are dicing with death by relying on energy drinks laced with caffeine to stay alert behind the wheel.
It''s a quick fix that doesn''t pay off, often leading to similar effects to drunkenness, including irritability, muscle twitching and slurred speech.
Hiding fatigue is a major cause of accidents.
I can think of two occasions when taxi drivers have nodded off at the wheel when stopped at traffic lights.
In both cases, I instructed them to stop, send for a replacement taxi, and cancel the fare.
Barely enough. I realise now I should have reported them.
West Lancashire council''s new dress code for taxi drivers after complaints that some have been driving around bare-chested and wearing flip-flops - plus tighter rules on age of vehicles, drivers'' medical fitness and the "knowledge" of their area - are just the start of what should be far greater over-all regulation.
And that works both ways: it should include council''s restricting plates issue to ensure existing drivers a decent living.
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|Publication:||Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)|
|Date:||Oct 1, 2009|
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