Law-breaking taxi, private-hire drivers get off too lightly

Traffic along the Central Expressway.
Traffic along the Central Expressway.PHOTO: ST FILE

I recently attended the Safe Driving Course (SDC) organised by the Traffic Police (TP) in order to get demerit points cancelled from my driving record, and was shocked to see so many taxi and private-hire car drivers attending the course.

These professional transport providers have added responsibility on the road to be more careful than the rest of us.

Something as basic as the SDC is unlikely to improve their possibly reckless driving behaviour.

Due to the added responsibility these drivers carry, I feel that they should not be given the option to cancel any of their accumulated demerit points.

We need to inculcate safe driving behaviour in them, which has often been lacking.

I once saw a private-hire car driver expect other vehicles to give way to him when he wanted to switch from lane one to lane three to make a last-minute turn.

Even if the TP are kind enough to give this group an opportunity to cancel a few of their demerit points, they should be made to complete a more advanced version of the SDC.

The TP can give these drivers more examples of accidents involving taxis and private-hire cars.

Also, it should be made a full-day or even a two-day course.

I am not trying to discriminate against this group of drivers. But the mileage they clock in a year is probably what other drivers clock in three years. Holding them to a higher standard would be similar to how there are higher moral standards and expectations of the police and those in the legal profession.

When professional drivers, whose sole duty is to ferry passengers safely to their destinations, drive recklessly, they should be treated more harshly. Any leniency may lead to actual accidents.

Tragedies such as the accident last year in which a student died due to a taxi driver's negligence in making a discretionary right turn have to be prevented, and allowing professional drivers to cancel demerit points by attending the existing SDC runs counter to this.

Chua Boon Hou

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 14, 2019, with the headline 'Law-breaking taxi, private-hire drivers get off too lightly'. Print Edition | Subscribe