Updated: Jul 24
London taxi drivers have expressed their ‘disappointment’ with recent incidents of being FINED for not wearing seat belts in the West End and Victoria areas.
Lloyd Baldwin, Executive Senior Officer of the Licensed Taxi Drivers' Association (LTDA), spoke out about the issue, raising concerns about the clarity of the law and police understanding of taxi drivers' exemptions.
In an article published in TAXI Newspaper, Baldwin shared accounts from taxi drivers who had been pulled over by the police for not wearing seat belts. One incident involved a driver who had just completed a drop-off in Upper Grosvenor Street. As he prepared to drive away, a police car signaled him to pull over and subsequently fined him for not wearing a seat belt.
The driver informed the officer that taxi drivers are exempt from wearing seat belts when the vehicle does not have a fare or the "For Hire" light on. However, the officer allegedly stated that the exemption only applies when the driver has a fare or the "For Hire" light is activated, suggesting that the driver was neither working nor exempt.
The issue has sparked debate among taxi drivers, who argue that a better understanding of their exemptions is needed to prevent unnecessary fines and ensure a smoother relationship between the police and the taxi industry.
Lloyd Baldwin, Licensed Taxi Drivers’ Association (LTDA) Executive Senior Officer, said in TAXI Newspaper: “As I said, I’ve always held the relationship between us and the police dear. But I cannot be anything other than very disappointed in what has been happening lately around the West End and Victoria areas.
“We’ve received several phone calls informing us that cabbies are being pulled over for not wearing a seat belt. On one occasion a member told me he dropped a job off in Upper Grosvenor Street and as he went to pull away, into very slow-moving traffic, a police car flashed him to pull out of where he had stopped. He thanked the driver with the usual thumbs up and thought about where to look for his next job. Suddenly, the police car turned on the lights and indicated for him to pull over. You can imagine the member's shock when he was informed, he had been pulled over for not wearing a seatbelt.
“Our member informed the Policeman immediately that we are exempt. He was met with ‘your only exempt when you’ve got a fare in the cab or when you have your For Hire Light On and you have neither.' He reportedly then said, ‘I know you haven’t got your light on because you have not cleared your meter’.
“I’ll be honest I thought there must be more to this, but that changed an hour or so later I when I received another phone call from a member pulled as he came out of the petrol station in Ebury Street. Over the next few days, I received similar calls form members very upset about the fines they have been handed.
“The law on this is clear, we are exempt, when working. Previous cases we’ve dealt with on this have shown that the hire light does not have to be on for a driver to be working or ‘employed’ as the Courts term it, as you could be plying for hire on an app or radio circuit or could be POB delivering something. If you are driving within the London licensing area and plying for hire, you are working and exempt. If you happen to run into what seems to be one copper on a mission, who maybe isn’t clear on the law, get in touch with us and we can help challenge the fine.”