A new Google Maps feature could cause UK taxi drivers “unnecessary difficulties” according to an industry legal expert. Google are testing a new feature that will alert you if your taxi or minicab driver begins to drive you off route. The new alert feature was designed to improve public safety, when using taxi or ride-sharing services in unfamiliar towns and cities.
According to a report by Trusted Reviews, Google will only let you know if you go off your predetermined route by at least 500 metres.
The new alert feature is currently live in India, but is expected to hit the UK in the near future. However, Stephen McCaffrey, a regulatory defence barrister specialising in taxi and private hire licensing law, appeals and defence, suggested the technology could cause unnecessary anxiety for both the driver and passenger. The barrister suggested that the function did not keep up with all live events like traffic, road closures and taxi access only roads. He also urged drivers “to be careful how they manage” situations arising from the new function. McCaffrey said via the Taxi Defence Barristers blog: “Clearly this is a feature aimed at protecting the public, but it may also cause licensed drivers unnecessary difficulties. The fact is that technology does not keep up with real life. An obvious example of this is road closures and diversions that can happen without notice. In these cases it may be that Google’s new feature will alert passengers (and potentially cause anxiety) unnecessarily. “Whilst there is a requirement on taxi drivers not to unnecessarily prolong journeys, there may be several ways to get to a destination. Provided the way chosen by the taxi drivers is not unreasonably prolonged, they could take a direction that Google Maps may not agree with and this too may cause an alert to the passenger. “Whilst the idea is good, the application may cause difficulties for drivers who will need to be careful how they manage this.”
Image: Google Maps