DESPITE often travelling in taxis many of us may be unaware that taxi drivers have not been required to wear seatbelts for the past 41 years.
However all that changed yesterday when new state government laws made it compulsory for taxi drivers to clip up before they drive off with a fare.
Now taxi drivers can be fined for not wearing a belt, a move which many taxi drivers are calling unfair.
Some taxi drivers feel wearing a seatbelt leaves them vulnerable to being attacked by passengers, making it difficult for them to escape their vehicle in a hurry if they need to.
In an effort to prove how unhappy drivers are about the new legislation, around 500 taxi drivers protested at Sydney Airport yesterday.
Even the president of the NSW Taxi Drivers’ Association Anne Turner has called the new laws “dangerous”.
No matter how much you sympathise with the plight of the taxi driver there’s no getting around the fact that seatbelts save lives.
A Transport for NSW spokesperson said less than 2 per cent of all NSW motorists injured in a crash are not wearing a seatbelt, but among taxi drivers the figure is 40 per cent
As the spokesperson said seatbelts have a proven record of saving lives.
It’s hard to dispute the fact that the change will enhance safety of drivers, while also protecting a front seat passenger from injuries sustained when an unrestrained driver is thrown across the vehicle.
The only solution might be to install a Perspex screen around the driver’s head, similar to those currently installed in many Sydney taxis.
The screen would allow drivers to not only feel protected from aggressive passengers but it would also give them the added security of being able to use a seatbelt.
While the installation of the screens would prove costly, they could also be lifesaving.