15 December 2008

Cabbies chase down fares

The Australian newspaper has a story about the lethal nature of cabbies:

SYDNEY'S taxis are knocking down pedestrians as fierce competition for passengers intensifies during the busy festive season.

Latest figures from the CBD's busiest hospital emergency department reveals about one in five pedestrians involved in road accidents are being hit by cabs.

To reduce the number of victims, doctors are issuing an alert to cab drivers, Christmas shoppers and revellers to take extra precautions on roadways.

The research, to be published in the next edition of the Australian Health Review, found 17.8 per cent of pedestrian victims admitted to St Vincent's Hospital last year had been hit by taxis.

One in six - or 16.3 per cent - of motorcyclist patients had also been hit by cabs.

Full story here.

Two points to note before assuming that Sydney’s cabbies are incompetent or homicidal. First, this is the central city we’re talking about, and naturally there will be a high concentration of cabs in the CBD. Secondly, cabs are on the road twenty-four hours a day, far more than normal vehicles.

Put these two facts together and it may well be that cabs are actually safer than other vehicles.

A common complaint amongst cabbies is that they drive so much more than other road users, but they still have the same number of points on their licence, and they have to pay the same fines as everybody else.

Thank goodness I’ve largely managed to avoid losing much in the way of points or fines, with the two marginal instances down to those evil speed and red light cameras at intersections.

But in the two years I’ve been driving cabs, I’ve had more and worse accidents than in the preceding thirty.

Two kangaroos - they just jumped out at me from roadside vegetation at night and there was nothing I could do except wrench off the mangled bumper, stow it in the boot for the day driver, and haul the body off the road. Both times I lost lights and cables and damaged the underneaths of the car.

One hare. Almost missed this one, but he doubled back and took out a turning light.

One possum. He was crossing the road, low and slow, at the same time I was peering at the navigation display and wondering about my passenger, who subsequently ran off without paying the fare.

One car I rear-ended, when they stopped suddenly.

One car rear-ended me when I stopped suddenly. The very next shift.

One tree I backed into when using the side mirrors to reverse straight down a curving driveway.

One cyclist. Luckily there was only a slight dent in the panel and I was able to haul the carcass off the road.

No, only joking. I moved across the bikelane into the parking lane outside the bus terminal at rush hour, and this fast-moving cyclist, head down, elbows out, glanced off my door and rammed my side mirror. I was able to pick him up, brush him down, give him my details including the number of the car I used to drive and warn him against mixing it with cabs or semi-trailers. He wobbled off and I heard no more, so presumably a bus got him on the way home.

And I bruised my knee leaving JFK when some goose got off an international flight, hired a car and crossed two lanes to make the exit my cabbie was using.

No lasting damage, though it’s been expensive.

And now I drive more carefully than I ever used to before I was a cabbie.

Please excuse the shaky photograph of Taxi 911 above, bearing down on me. The driver got out and asked what the hell I thought I was doing, but I just wanted a good photo for the story, and the rego number tickled my humour.

No comments: