The job of a chauffeur carries with it some onerous responsibilities – not least towards the safety of the passengers being transported.
The seriousness of those responsibilities is reflected in the fact that a special private hire driving licence is required, the vehicle itself also needs to be licensed to carry passengers and both driver and car must be covered by suitable private hire chauffeur insurance.
According to a report in The Chauffeur magazine on the 15thof February 2018, those responsibilities are to be lent even greater weight in the licensing of private hire vehicles by Transport for London (TfL) with the requirement for chauffeurs to pass an advanced driving test.
Pointing to the considerable changes seen in the private hire market since the introduction of current licensing requirements, Transport for London says that it is considering the introduction of advanced driving tests as part of an overall strategy to keep the capital’s taxi and private hire operations amongst the safest in the world.
The need for change has also been prompted, says Transport for London, by the upsurge in app-booking and ride-sharing services (such as Uber).
Also included in the package of measures under consideration are:
· changes to the requirements for private hire insurance for fleet operators of private hire vehicles;
· improvements to signage used in all private hire vehicles – so that passengers are fully aware of the complaints procedures in place; and
· enhanced assessments of chauffeurs’ knowledge concerning issues such as equality, disability, safeguarding and the private hire legislation in general.
The consultation process
Transport for London opened its consultation process on the 26thof March and intends to close it on the 18thof June 2018, with any changes to the rules to be introduced later in the year.
Drivers of private hire vehicles, including chauffeurs, who are operating almost exclusively in the heavily-congested urban environment of London need to display greater skills than those tested for an ordinary driving licence, explains TfL.
Any driver of a private hire vehicle providing wheelchair access also needs to pass an enhanced assessment of their skills and knowledge in the carriage of wheelchair-using passengers.
Drivers of private hire vehicles, including chauffeurs, might also need to submit to enhanced background checks on their criminal record, before any licence is granted.
Private hire chauffeur insurance
Notes on the consultation process carry the reminder that Part VI of the Road Traffic Act 1988 requires the appropriate insurance of all vehicles offered for private hire.
Reflecting this, TfL’s licensing regulations currently make it a condition that no vehicle licensed for private hire shall use, or allow the use of, the car unless there is valid private hire insurance in place to cover the carriage of passengers for hire or reward.
When the car is not being used as a private hire vehicle, however, hire or reward orprivate hire insurance does not need to be in place.
A review of these insurance requirements is included in the consultation process to ensure that the insurance requirements for private hire vehicles continue to serve their purpose in protecting public safety, says TfL.
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