Thursday 25 April 2019

No action taken against taxi drivers in 60pc of complaints

Almost 1,000 complaints were made against taxi drivers last year
Almost 1,000 complaints were made against taxi drivers last year

Sam Griffin

Almost 1,000 complaints were made against taxi drivers last year but the National Transport Authority (NTA) "took no further action" in three out of every five cases.

Driver behaviour was the area most commonly complained about and made up nearly half of the 952 complaints received in 2014, new figures show.

Women's rights groups are now calling for training and a code of conduct to be drawn up for taxi drivers to offer guidelines on how to avoid causing offence to female passengers.

Figures from the NTA show a total of 952 complaints were made in 2014 across five different categories.

Driver behaviour accounted for 465 of the complaints.

Among the complaints received was one passenger who told how a taxi driver demonstrated "quite aggressive behaviour" and was "very threatening" after the passenger commented on the cleanliness of the vehicle.

"I would be very afraid of meeting this taxi driver again," the complainant noted.

Under the Taxi Regulation Act 2013, the NTA has the power to issue fixed penalty notices, warn drivers of their conduct and refer them to other agencies, including the gardaí.

However the figures show the NTA took no further action in 59pc of all complaints received, with fixed payment notices issued in just 3pc of cases and warnings in less than 2pc of complaints.

The NTA says reasons for no further action being taken include cases where complaints are made anonymously, there is insufficient evidence to investigate, a driver has not been identified, or no offence has been committed.

Last year, 218 complaints were referred to other agencies, with 208 forwarded to gardaí and the remainder going to other bodies, including the Department of Transport and the Revenue Commissioners.

The NTA successfully completed 80 prosecutions in 2014.

The figures come as the Rape Crisis Network Ireland (RCNI) and the National Women's Council of Ireland (NWCI) call for the NTA to require taxi drivers to complete training and commit to a code of conduct before an SPSV license is granted to cut down on instances of women feeling unsafe or threatened in taxis.

Both organisations said they have been made aware of such instances and say much of the concerns stem from "a lack of awareness" by male drivers.

"If you're a woman, sometimes conversations can stray into areas that are inappropriate, whether that be sexual or some other topic.

"But I think taxi drivers may not realise that is inappropriate or making someone uncomfortable," Clíona Saidléar from the RCNI told the Irish Independent.

"A very basic gender-sensitive code could basically say: 'If there is a female passenger in your car, do not ask her about her boyfriend, her sex life, or if she is single, and so on'. These are concerns we hear a lot of the time."

NWCI director Orla O'Connor said training "should be provided to all those involved in the provision of such public services" to ensure the safety of women.

Irish Independent

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