Updated: Sep 4
Licensed taxi drivers are facing increasing prosecutions and threats to their licence despite sometimes decades of exemplary behaviour, says LTDA General Secretary.
According to Steve McNamara, General Secretary of the Licensed Taxi Drivers' Association (LTDA), the LTDA is witnessing a growing number of its members seeking representation every week. Many of these drivers have served in the industry for years without any prior legal issues but now find themselves confronted with various challenges. These challenges include speeding violations, difficulties with licensing and medical requirements imposed by Transport for London (TfL), and the looming threat of cyclist cameras targeting black cab drivers.
Among the issues that could be easily avoided, McNamara emphasised the importance of preventing handheld mobile interaction, even when stationary in traffic. He urged taxi drivers to refrain from holding their phones while driving and instead keep them securely in a cradle.
McNamara warned of a small yet persistent group of ‘vigilante cyclists’ who actively seek out drivers stuck in traffic while holding their phones. The cyclists record videos of the incidents and then post the ’glory video’ to their growing social media channels, potentially jeopardising the livelihoods of the taxi drivers involved. McNamara labelled them as ’sad and lonely’ individuals, suggesting many spend their days scouring Regent's and Hyde Parks for such opportunities.
While acknowledging the dangers of using a phone while driving, McNamara also stressed the need to distinguish between the risks posed when stationary in traffic versus those when operating a moving vehicle.
McNamara said in a TAXI Newspaper editorial: “Here at the LTDA, we are now seeing and representing more and more members with every passing week, many of these are cabbies with 20 or more years behind them, who have never had so much as a parking ticket, but are now facing prosecutions for speeding, licence and medical red tape problems at TfL, and increasingly threats of licence suspensions and revocations.
“Some of these issues are easily avoided. An obvious one being don’t hold a phone ever, yes that’s ever, keep it in a cradle. There is a small but tenacious group of quite sad and I assume bored and lonely, vigilante cyclists, who spend their days searching the highways and byways hoping to catch someone stuck in the traffic holding a phone.
“These people are everywhere but their favourite hunting ground is in Regent’s and Hyde Parks. Once they’ve caught someone out, they then post glory videos online of, what is, I can only imagine their only success in life, gloating over possibly costing someone their livelihood. They would argue holding a phone is dangerous, and I would agree, but there is a vast difference between looking at it stuck in near gridlocked traffic, probably out of utter boredom, and actually driving a moving vehicle. Unfortunately for some of our members, who make what is often a simple mistake or unthinking moment, the offence is the same, as is the penalty, 6 points. The only solution is don’t do it. Let these sad losers ruin someone else’s day.”