Help sick cabbies take time off

Last Thursday, my taxi driver father suffered a fall, but he endured the pain and continued to drive for the entire day.

It was later found that he had an ankle fracture, and was referred to Singapore General Hospital for immediate surgery.

This makes me wonder how many drivers risk their lives and their passengers' lives by driving when they are unwell. Some even self-medicate with sedating cold medications.

As a general practitioner, it is common for me to encounter taxi drivers who decline medical certificates for ailments such as viral infections and common colds.

They say that they simply cannot afford to take time off, as rental overheads loom.

"Super-relief" drivers are hard to come by at the last minute, and the partial waiver of rentals is considered only on a case-by-case basis.

If they do not get reimbursed or a waiver of their rental, their family's livelihood is affected.

Taxi drivers have a higher chance of falling ill due to close exposure to a great number of people. Many drivers are also elderly, with medical co-morbidities.

Passengers are also at risk of catching illnesses from sick drivers.

It is time to improve the well-being and safety of our taxi drivers and private-hire car drivers.

Roger Teo Chee Yih (Dr)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 23, 2017, with the headline 'Help sick cabbies take time off'. Print Edition | Subscribe