No rise in age limit for taxi and private-hire drivers as those older are accident-prone

The Singapore Medical Association recommended against raising the age limit due to safety concerns. ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN

SINGAPORE - Taxi and private-hire car drivers aged between 70 and 74 are five to six times more likely to get into an accident where they are at fault, compared with their counterparts below 60.

This is why the Land Transport Authority (LTA) will not raise the statutory age limit for vocational drivers for now, currently set at 75, said Senior Minister of State for Transport Amy Khor in Parliament on Tuesday in rejecting a suggestion by Ms Yeo Wan Ling (Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC).

Ms Yeo, the adviser to the National Taxi Association (NTA) and the National Private Hire Vehicles Association, had asked whether the Transport Ministry would consider extending the vocational licence limit past age 75 if drivers are certified to be medically fit.

Dr Khor said the LTA has worked with the Singapore Medical Association (SMA) to explore this possibility, but the SMA recommended against raising the age limit because of safety concerns.

The current statutory age limit for taxi and private-hire car drivers was raised from 70 to 73 in 2006 and then to 75 in 2012. Vocational licence holders aged 50 to 74 have to undergo regular check-ups and meet the necessary medical requirements before their licence is renewed.

In follow-up questions, Ms Yeo said there are signs that the taxi and private-hire driver population is ageing, with the average age of NTA members having increased by five years to 60 from 55 about 10 years ago.

Older drivers have also told her that they want to keep driving past 75 as they feel they are still in good health and are mentally alert. Some of the senior drivers' nest eggs have been wiped out in the past two years due to the pandemic, she added.

Ms Yeo asked whether a restricted licence, where holders would still be able to drive but only for restricted hours, could be issued to drivers above 75.

Dr Khor noted that the number of licence holders aged above 70 remains a minority of between 1 per cent and 5 per cent, and that Singapore already has a very high statutory age limit, citing as an example Taiwan, which has an age limit of 70.

But she said her ministry will carefully consider such a restricted licence in a future review, notwithstanding challenges in administering and enforcing such a time-bound licence.

"LTA will continue to monitor the sector and review the statutory age limit periodically to ensure an appropriate balance between safety and allowing older drivers to remain in the vocation," she added.

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