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UNDERSTAND THE DISTINCTION: 'Seeking Hire' vs. 'Plying-for-Hire' in the taxi industry

In the complex realm of taxi legislation, the terms "seeking hire" and "plying-for-hire" play significant roles, each with its own distinct meaning and implications.

Recently, there has been a growing need to clarify the difference between these two phrases for a better understanding among taxi drivers, the public and those upholding the law.

The phrase "plying-for-hire" primarily refers to the act of actively looking for or actively offering taxi services to potential customers. Traditionally, this involved the physical presence of a taxi with its "For Hire" light illuminated, indicating its availability to pick up passengers. This traditional visual cue has been a longstanding symbol in the taxi industry.

However, with the rapid advancement of technology, the concept of "seeking hire" has emerged as a broader and more inclusive term. According to the Licensed Taxi Drivers' Association (LTDA), the exemption that allows taxi drivers to forgo wearing a seat belt while "seeking hire" is outlined in The Motor Vehicles (Wearing of Seat Belts) Regulations 1993.

The exemption applies to a licensed taxi driver while the vehicle is being used for various purposes, including seeking hire, answering a call for hire, or carrying a passenger for hire. Unlike "plying-for-hire," there is no mandatory requirement for the "For Hire" light to be illuminated when a taxi is "seeking hire." Instead, a driver can indicate their availability electronically through ride-hailing apps, radio circuits, or even by responding to a call for hire received through other means.

The distinction between these terms is crucial, as it reflects not only the flexible adaptation of the taxi industry, but also how rules around seat belt exemptions are policed.

By encompassing electronic methods of communication and ride-hailing apps, which have become increasingly prevalent in recent years, the concept of "seeking hire" embraces a wider range of methods for taxi drivers to connect with potential passengers.


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