Cheltenham Borough Council have officially decided to allow the installation of partition screens in hackney carriage and private hire vehicles if the driver wishes.
The agreement was made by cabinet members during a meeting held on 7 July.
Partitions or safety screens provide a physical barrier between drivers and passengers in the vehicle. They are commonly installed in purpose built hackney carriages as a safety feature to protect the driver from physical attacks or theft.
The industry has seen an increase in interest of the use of screens as a way of providing physical separation between drivers and passengers in order to reduce the transmission of COVID-19.
Purpose built hackney carriages are already fitted with partitions between drivers and passengers. However, licensed saloon vehicles do not have partitions/safety screens installed. There are a wide variety of different makes and model of these vehicles licenced in Cheltenham, which led to the council looking into allowing installations of temporary screens.
The council has said that whether a partition or screen should be installed is a matter for vehicle owners, drivers and/or operators to consider.
The decision came after a list of policy proposals outlining rules on the installation of partitions or screens in hackney carriages or private hire vehicles was presented to council members, along with a consultation with members of the trade.
Specification proposals that were listed are as follows:
The partition or screen:
must comply with the Road Vehicle (Construction and Use) Regulations.
must be professionally and securely fitted and maintained in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions. Certification from the fitter must be obtained to certify the safety of the installation and confirmation it has been fitted to manufacturers standards.
should be constructed with a transparent polyvinyl chloride (PVC) or polycarbonate and be of firm or solid design.
should not impede the driver’s vision, movement, or communication with passengers.
should not impede driver or passenger access or egress to the vehicle.
must be fitted in such a way so as not to affect the structural integrity of the vehicle or interfere or affect any manufacturer fitted safety equipment or features including headrests, seatbelts, airbags, egress points, CCTV.
must not wrap around the driver seat and create a partition between the two front seats, in addition to the rear cabin area.
must not affect the ability of the vehicle to be properly insured for the purpose of carrying persons for hire and/or reward.
must not adversely influence or interfere in any way with vehicle type approval.
should not be significantly changed or modified from the original manufactured design. In cases where it is necessary to modify the original design of the device (for example, to facilitate installation of the device in the vehicle), assurances should be sought from the supplier/installer that the modification does not raise any concerns in relation to safety of the device and complies with the relevant UK and/or EC safety legislation.
should remain clear and be free of scratches, clouding or stickers which would impede the drivers or passengers’ visibility.
In accordance with the conditions attached to private hire and hackney carriage vehicle proprietors licences, permission must be sought prior to any vehicle alternations including installation of a partition or screen in any vehicles licensed by Cheltenham Borough Council.
The authority reserves the right to seek any additional information that it might require including, but not limited to:
Technical specifications on any partition or screen installed;
Written confirmation that any partition or screen installed has been done so professionally and
in accordance with the manufacturers requirements and specifications;
Confirmation that the vehicle’s insurance cover has not been affected by the installation of the
partition or screen; and/or
Written confirmation from the vehicle’s manufacturer that the installation of the partition or
screen does not compromise the integrity of the vehicle structure.
Image credit: Richard Amos