Ipswich cabbie hits back at ‘scare stories’ of dangerous driving
PUBLISHED: 19:16 14 February 2019
An Ipswich taxi driver has said he is outraged at statistics saying his members of his profession are the worst culprits of using a mobile phone while driving.
The national study from the Transport Research Laboratory (TRL), which saw officers monitor three sites in Suffolk, recorded the number of motorists on their phones or not wearing a seatbelt.
It found 1% of car drivers on mobiles and 3.5% not wearing a seatbelt - but highlighted in the statistics was the fact the most frequent phone users were taxi or private hire drivers (3.3%), followed by van drivers (2.1%), car drivers (1%) and truckers (0.6%).
The data collected in Suffolk came from sites on the B1116 near Framlingham, the corner of Hadleigh Road and London Road in Ipswich and the A1066 near Diss.
Chris Talbot, a taxi driver in Ipswich, disputed the TRL’s findings and argued that professional drivers in the town get unduly criticised.
“I do not believe that Ipswich’s taxi drivers are as bad as this report says,” he said.
“Those statistics are another scare story about cab drivers. You can make statistics say anything.
“I’m on the road a lot and believe me, I see a lot of members of the public driving dangerously, talking on their phones, not paying attention and driving in the wrong lanes.”
Suffolk’s roads policing inspector Chris Hinitt said most drivers now respect laws on mobile phone use and seatbelts - but a belligerent few “idiots” remain a danger on the roads.
Younger drivers aged 17 to 29 were also twice as likely to use a phone as those aged 30 to 59.
“Talking on the phone is an issue and it is against the law and drivers should not do it,” Mr Talbot added.
“By all means, if we are breaking the law, prosecute us. I don’t think we should get special treatment as taxi drivers, but the police need to be prosecuting people for this.”
Mr Talbot said a declining night life in the town and negative reporting of taxi drivers are also detrimental to business for him and his colleagues, adding: “If you think about it, it doesn’t make sense for drivers to be talking on mobiles while they are driving.
“The majority of us try to deliver a high-quality, professional service to my customers or they won’t come back again and that’s bad for business.”