Call to change taxi driver seatbelt law

Image caption,
Halim Cholmeley was jailed for six years earlier this year

A sheriff has called for the government to end a regulation which exempts taxi drivers from wearing seatbelts.

Sheriff George Way made the recommendation following a fatal accident inquiry into the death of a taxi driver in Dundee.

Gavin McCabe was killed in 2009 when his cab was hit by a car driven by a drunk motorist trying to kill himself.

The sheriff found Mr McCabe might have survived the crash if he had been wearing his seatbelt.

Halim Cholmeley was jailed for six years earlier this year after admitting causing death by dangerous driving.

The 36-year-old rammed Mr McCabe's Skoda Superb. The taxi driver suffered fatal head injuries after being thrown from the car.

His passenger, who was wearing a seatbelt, survived the crash. Cholmeley suffered only minor injuries.

Passenger risk

The seatbelt exemption for taxi drivers, which was last reviewed in 1993, is in place because of concerns that wearing a belt would make them more vulnerable to assault or robbery.

Sheriff Way said it was not certain that Mr McCabe's life would have been saved if he had been wearing a seatbelt, but added he could see no reason why taxi drivers should be exempt from the law.

He said: "The risk to the health and safety of both drivers and passengers which these regulations engender is, in my judgment, wholly disproportionate to the perceived risks to drivers of physical abuse and the like from passengers.

"In my judgment the exemption fosters an attitude of mind amongst taxi drivers that it is their professional 'right' to be exempt and acceptance of this blinds them to their own health and safety."

Sheriff Way said specially designed taxis all now had fully isolated taxi cabs to reduce the risk of assault or robbery and that private hire vehicles could be adapted in such a way.

But the sheriff accepted that Mr McCabe, 41, had been driving in a "perfectly safe manner" when he was hit by Cholmeley who was "apparently bent on suicide" and driving at excessive speed.

He recommended that Scottish ministers and the Secretary of State for Transport "urgently review" the current regulations with a view to rescinding the exemption.

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