When it comes to medicals, TfL follows the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) rules to the letter, so why are they now banning cabbies with valid DVLA driving licences from driving a taxi?
Drivers over a certain age are required to provide TfL with a medical, first at 50, then 56, 62 and 65. After 65, this then becomes a yearly requirement, to confirm that they meet the fitness requirements to hold a taxi licence. The normal procedure is that a driver books a GP appointment, at which the doctor will complete their medical form. On this form, GPs will note if a driver has had any health issues. These can range from the more minor such as high blood pressure to the most serious issues including heart attack, stroke, or diabetes.
When a driver sends a completed medical form to TfL, which lists a previous health issue of concern, TfL will then request further medical information to enable them to make a determination on the driver’s fitness to hold a taxi licence. In assessing this, they follow the DVLA medical guidelines and whenever we query such decisions, they always simply refer us back to DVLA rules. There is generally no room for manoeuvre, the rules are the rules, as they say computer, or well DVLA, says no.
This begs the question why is TfL now revoking the cab licences of drivers who are deemed fit to hold a DVLA driving licence and have no other issues?
Under TfL’s new driver, ‘six points and you are out,’ policy, cabbies are subject to licence revocation if they receive a single conviction for a major driving offence, resulting in six penalty points, like using a mobile phone. You can also lose your licence if you accumulate 12 points in three years for minor offences like speeding, which may sound like a lot, but can quickly add up, and mistakes happen.
Even if the driver doesn’t lose their DVLA licence, and a qualified magistrate decides in their favour, on the grounds that losing their driving licence would cause them exceptional hardship, they are STILL liable to lose their taxi licence at the hands of TfL.
When this new driver policy came into force, the implications hit us all like a sledgehammer. Suddenly, it was much easier for a driver’s licence to be put in jeopardy and for their livelihood to be taken away. Just over a year later, we are now seeing the policy hitting hardworking cabbies, some who have never previously put a foot wrong, and who are being left in very worrying predicaments.
This simply isn’t fair or right! TfL is a licencing authority, not judge and jury. Yet here they are overruling decision made by magistrates.