Outrage over taxi drivers' shame

SEVENTY three taxi drivers in Suffolk have been prosecuted for motoring offences in the last two years, it can be revealed today.The figures, released under the Freedom of Information Act, reveal that 16 cabbies were prosecuted for drink driving, one for being in charge of a vehicle with excess alcohol and four for failing to give specimens between the beginning of 2004 and the end of 2005.

SEVENTY three taxi drivers in Suffolk have been prosecuted for motoring offences in the last two years, it can be revealed today.

The figures, released under the Freedom of Information Act, reveal that 16 cabbies were prosecuted for drink driving, one for being in charge of a vehicle with excess alcohol and four for failing to give specimens between the beginning of 2004 and the end of 2005.

The figures do not indicate if the drivers were working when they were caught by police but the figures have resulted in shock among cabbies and road safety campaigners.

Eric Pearl, secretary of Ipswich Taxi Drivers Association, said he did not believe any taxi drivers in Ipswich had been convicted of drink driving in the last ten years and lambasted any cabbies who got behind the wheel drunk.

He said: “Any driver who gets caught drink driving deserves exactly what they get because it blackens the name of the profession.

“Any Suffolk taxi driver banned from driving should never get their taxi license back again.

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“There is no excuse whatsoever for a licensed driver to drink and drive because there are safety issues to be considered.”

The figures do not indicate whether the driver's prosecuted were licensed or unlicensed cabbies but they gave “taxi driver” as their profession when questioned by police.

A further ten drivers were charged with not having a driving licence and 14 for driving without insurance.

Other offences included altering insurance documents, failing to stop after an accident and driving whilst disqualified.

Dianne Ferreira, spokeswoman for road safety charity Brake, said: “We send out the message to people not to drink and drive and to use alternative transportation, such as public transport or a taxi and it is absolutely ludicrous when the taxi drivers themselves are drink driving and committing motoring offences.

“We are shocked by these figures and would urge taxi drivers and their organisations to ensure the safety of their vehicles and the conduct of their drivers.

“This should be a wake-up call to taxi drivers, both independent and those part of fleets, to take a good look at their safety standards, for the safety of not only their passengers but other road users, pedestrians and the drivers themselves.”

A spokeswoman for Ipswich council said if a taxi driver lost their driving licence a report would be prepared for the council's licensing committee who would then decide how long to suspend their taxi licence. The length of ban would vary depending on the circumstances.

Weblink: www.brake.org.uk

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