Department for Transport brings in new official guidance for taxi and private hire partition screens

Updated: Mar 7

Diagram Image credit: DfT

The Department for Transport (DfT) has released new guidance which provides advice for drivers, operators and owners of taxis or private hire vehicles (PHVs) who choose to fit a screen or barrier to their vehicles to reduce the spread of coronavirus.

According to the DfT, fitting a screen can help reduce the risk of virus transmission and should be one of a number of measures cabbies consider where social distancing guidelines cannot be fully followed.

The decision whether taxi and minicab drivers use a screen rests with them and the local licensing authority. Licensing of taxis and PHVs is a local government responsibility. If a licensing authority decides to specify requirements in respect of screens, authorities are encouraged to consider the DfT guidance in developing their own licensing requirements for the fitment of interior screens to help prevent the spread of coronavirus.

The fresh guidance covers screens that are fitted to vehicles not originally designed to have a screen. It does not cover screens that are included in the vehicle as part of their original design like that found in a traditional black cab taxi.

There is now a broad and growing range of screens available to the industry, most of which are suitable for a variety of makes and models of vehicle.

Any screen fitted to a vehicle must be made of suitable materials, manufactured to an acceptable standard of finish and installed by a competent person.

The choice of screen should be considered for each vehicle individually, because vehicle designs and specifications vary. Wherever possible, choose a screen offered or approved by the vehicle manufacturer to help ensure its suitability for your vehicle.

Image credit: DfT

Drivers are asked to contact the vehicle manufacturer through a dealership or their website for advice on screen choice that is specific to their vehicle.

DfT suggests drivers should consider the following:

  • if you’re choosing a screen, you’ll need to comply with any requirements set by your licensing authority

  • ensure the screen is transparent and will not interfere with your vision while driving by obscuring rearward view in the internal mirror, or causing excessive reflection or distortion in that mirror or onto the windscreen

  • the screen must not interfere with vehicle safety systems (for example, the airbags). Consider a screen that is flexible or has flexible borders that won’t interfere with the deployment of side or curtain airbags

  • the screen must not interfere with other vehicle safety systems, such as the seatbelts and their fixing points, seat back and head restraint operation

  • check that screens and their fixings have no sharp edges or protrusions that might cause injury

  • screens must be made of materials that do not have sharp edges if they break

  • it’s important to minimise the gap between the screen and the vehicle sides. Screens that fit the shape of the interior of the vehicle will be best at preventing transmission of coronavirus

  • choose a screen that can be cleaned easily between passenger journeys. It should be rigid enough that it does not move much when cleaned

  • check with the screen manufacturer to ensure the material used is neither toxic nor flammable.

Image credit: DfT

The DfT guidance goes on to provide examples of how screens should be correctly fitted and how to also ensure that drivers can still communicate with passengers onboard.

Drivers are urged to check with insurance firms whether the screen they wish to choose doesn’t invalidate any policy they currently have in place.

Image credit: DfT

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