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Attacks on taxi drivers highlight need to rethink new rules

Violent attacks on taxi drivers highlight need to rethink new rules - Taxi Federation

Two violent attacks on taxi drivers in the last two weeks highlight the need for the Government to rethink health and safety issues in new laws for small passenger service vehicles now before Parliament.

The new legislation removes the need for small passenger vehicles, or taxis, to have duress alarms and in some cases the need for security cameras.

Cameras and duress alarms were made compulsory by the Government after taxi drivers in Auckland and Christchurch were murdered by their passengers. Now the Government is removing completely the requirement for duress alarms and cameras will no longer be required in vehicles which have another means of identifying driver and passenger, such as an app used for calling a taxi.

In the recent attacks, a Wellington taxi driver was subject to a brutal attack by a person who followed him to Wellington Airport in mid-afternoon. The attack had racial overtones and the attacker opened the driver’s door and leapt on top of him, punching him about the head. The attacker was dragged away, still shouting racial abuse and threatening further attacks, by other taxi drivers. He was held until Police arrived and arrested him and two others waiting in a car nearby. Security footage from the attack has been recovered and used by the Police.

The other incident was in Manurewa, in South Auckland, in the early hours of this morning. Three youths, aged around 17 or 18, attacked a taxi driver and demanded money. He was punched repeatedly around the head but was able to use his duress alarm to summon help. The three youths took off on foot when help arrived and the driver was taken to hospital by ambulance. He was treated and later sent home. Today the driver was still in shock at his home, resting and recovering from the attack.

When drivers set off duress alarms the car becomes "live" and operators at the base can hear what is going on in the vehicle, pinpoint its location, and direct Police and other drivers to the scene. Duress alarms and security cameras are health and safety issues. Taxi drivers provide a service round-the-clock but with changing drinking patterns and drug use more anti-social behavior is being encountered.

The changes to the Land Transport Act are still before Parliament awaiting a second reading and on behalf of taxi drivers throughout New Zealand we make a plea to Members of Parliament to ensure a safer work environment for people providing this essential service.


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