Is the lack of an enhanced driving test for private hire drivers compromising public safety

Nobody could fail to raise a wry smile at the video footage shown on yesterdays TaxiPoint at some of the antics on the road from a proportion of private hire vehicle drivers in London.

Over the last few years, since the introduction of app-based ride-hailing minicab apps such as Uber, there seems to have been a marked increase in the number of incidents involving private hire vehicle drivers which could be construde as incompetence.

Mistakes on the road are a pretty normal part of driving, we all make them, whether you are a taxi driver, private hire vehicle driver, lorry driver, bus driver, even emergency service vehicle drivers make errors. Ultimately, the longer that you are on the road, the more likely you are to make an error.

All of the above classification of vehicle, with the exception of one have a common similarity, they all require a secondary or vocational driving qualification. The odd one out amongst that list are private hire vehicle drivers.

The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) ceased providing taxi driving tests for local councils, which also includes Transport for London on December 31st 2016, incredibly, over 18 months on, nobody has been installed as a provider to replace the DVSA.

This situation begs the question as to why every single form of public transportation, from cabs to ambulances, are required to obtain a vocational driving qualification, and yet minicabs aren't.

In recent times we have seen video footage of an Uber vehicle attempting to drive down a flight of stairs in Eldon Street, by Liverpool Street Station, this has in fact happened several times, at different staircases. We have also seen another Uber vehicle drive off of a pier near Tynemouth, with passengers in the vehicle, and yet another Uber vehicle trying to cross a causeway to St Mary's Lighthouse in Tyne and Wear as the tide was coming in. Finally, who could forget the PHV driver who drove across a pavement outside the Natural History Museum, knocking several people over.

Let's be clear, not every incident involves an Uber driver, and there are a lot of very good, experienced PHV drivers on the road and there are also some very poor, as well as very good taxi drivers across the UK There is however, a clear problem emanating from the PHV industry regarding the ability of a sizable minority of drivers, which is simply not being addressed.

By failing to address the issues, public safety is being compromised. This is inexcusable, given that this is probably the easiest of issues to resolve, by simply contracting out the DVSA test and making it a requirement to pass before being issued a PHV license.

Ultumately the buck stops with the Secretary Of State For Transport , Chris Grayling as to whether he will act on the matter.

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