7. Improved safety for customers and drivers
Regulatory impact assessments should be completed as a mandatory requirement before decisions are taken in relation to the implementation of safety initiatives in the commercial passenger vehicle industry.
Where possible, safety measures should be outcomes-focused rather than prescriptive. The Taxi Services Commission should undertake research into the performance of current initiatives and other potential safety-related measures and provide advice to the Department of Transport as necessary.
There should be an immediate moratorium on the roll out of the new taxi safety cameras while the inquiry’s report is being considered. In this period, a cost and benefit assessment of applying the new camera standard in country Victoria should be undertaken. More generally, the specifications set for this camera should be reviewed against appropriate benchmarks. The target date for completing this work should be the end of 2012.
The requirement for driver protection screens should remain in place in the short term, but should be reviewed after three years to consider the impact and performance of other safety measures that may obviate the need for screens. Some of these will arise from the implementation of the inquiry’s reforms, such as the imposing of Occupational Health and Safety duties on permit holders and the extent of take up of purpose built taxi vehicles with in-built safety measures.
The exemption for Victorian taxis and hire cars from the mandatory use of child restraints for children aged one year or older but less than seven years should be removed. The taxi and Pre-Booked Only cab industry should be responsible for managing the operational and service issues associated with supplying appropriate child restraints for passengers. Authorised Taxi Organisations and permit holders should be able to levy reasonable charges for child restraints where not provided by the passenger.
The Department of Transport, with coordinated involvement from the Taxi Services Commission and other stakeholders such as Victoria Police, local councils, liquor licensees and taxi industry representatives, should develop guidelines on establishing and operating safe taxi ranks, including addressing issues relating to:
- Physical design and infrastructure needs
- Operational requirements such as supervision and CCTV
- Management of rank space for an expanded range of services
- The differing requirements for inner city, suburban and regional safe ranks
- Clarity of funding arrangements for the ongoing investment in and sustainability of safe ranks.
The inquiry notes the difficulties experienced by local councils in funding the ongoing operations of safe ranks. As part of the development of these statewide guidelines, consideration should be given to developing policies for safe rank funding options including user pays, an accord between beneficiaries of safe ranks to share costs, and directing some of the revenue from the sale of taxi licences to supporting safe ranks.