Taxi drivers question law change

By Paul Harper

Photo / file
Photo / file

There are doubts among taxi drivers the installation of security cameras in their vehicles will make their job safer.

From today, taxis in 15 major towns and cities must have working security camera systems.

The law change, which applies to about 6700 taxis, says they must have an operating security camera and taxi companies must run a 24-hour call centre.

Christchurch is exempt from the change because of the earthquakes and has until May 1 to install cameras.

The requirement from today covers taxis operating in Auckland, Hamilton, Tauranga, Rotorua, Gisborne, Napier, Hastings, Palmerston North, New Plymouth, Wanganui, Wellington, Nelson, Dunedin, Queenstown and Invercargill.

The law change followed a spate of attacks on taxi drivers, including the killing of Hiren Mohini, who was stabbed to death by a passenger in the Auckland suburb of Mt Eden last year.

However one Auckland Taxis driver does not expect the cameras to change the behaviour of people who have been drinking.

"I think in general it won't make a big difference. It depends on the individual - when they are drunk, if they are going to do something [violent], it is up to them," the driver, who did not want to be named, said.

His colleague, who also did not want to be named, welcomed the move.

"I think it will be good for night drivers, [although] I think it is safe for day time drivers," he said.

Neither driver had had the cameras installed into their vehicles, and do not know when they will be installed by their company.

Taxi Federation executive director Tim Reddish said about 95 per cent of taxi companies had already installed the equipment.

"There have been a few supply issues and a few installation capacity issues which have delayed some, and for that purpose NZTA have issued some short-term exemptions provided the taxi company's done everything properly and they've confirmed their orders,'' he told NZPA.

If the taxi company had not done anything and did not have cameras installed they would be taken off the road.

The cameras cost about $1000 each which were paid for by drivers or the employers.

Some companies would increase fares to cover the cost of the cameras, he said.

"Different companies will [counteract the cost] differently, some won't do it at all ... others will be putting a small addition to their flag fall.''

Everybody had just got on with the change, Mr Reddish said.

"I don't think everyone's happy with it cause they've had to spend money, but in saying that I think generally there's wide acceptance that it will make the occupation safer.''

When this law had been introduced in other countries, such as Australia, there had been up to a 75 percent reduction in attacks on drivers, he said.

- Herald Online, NZPA

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production apcf05 at 19 Dec 2014 10:15:04 Processing Time: 192ms