The NZ Transport Agency (NZTA) has released a draft Land Transport Rule for public comment which outlines proposed new requirements to improve the safety of taxi drivers and their passengers.
The changes proposed in the Land Transport Rule: Operator Licensing Amendment (No 2) 2010 would apply to taxis operating in major towns and cities. In those areas, they would require the fitting of in-vehicle security cameras and for taxi telecommunications systems to include 24-hour, seven-days-a week monitoring from a fixed location, and an emergency alert and response facility.
The changes in the Rule were signalled by the Government last month and are intended to create a safer working environment for taxi drivers following a number of serious attacks on drivers since December 2008.
The proposed amendment Rule requires that security camera systems must be approved by the NZTA, to ensure they are fit for purpose. It sets out the technical specifications for cameras and other requirements relating to the fitting of cameras and to the storage, access to and deletion of camera footage.
In-vehicle cameras have been successfully used for several years in Australia’s main cities, and overseas experience suggests that in-vehicle cameras can reduce violent crime in taxis by 70 percent and taxi fare evasion by a similar amount. An in-vehicle camera can also enhance passenger safety and assist police inquiries into other crimes. Improved telecommunications also offer considerable safety benefits, as a monitoring service can respond immediately if alerted to a threat and direct assistance to a taxi driver.
Copies of the draft amendment Rule, with the accompanying overview and related questions and answers are available at www.nzta.govt.nz/consultation/taxi-safety-amendment-2010(external link)/. Submissions close on Friday 8 October. The Rule is expected to come into force in early 2011 with cameras to be installed by August 2011.
Town or cities the amendment Rule will apply to