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Last Updated: Wednesday, 18 February, 2004, 21:23 GMT
Taxi passengers 'risking death'
Generic black taxi cab
Passengers' lives are being put at risk, says survey
The poor standard of taxi driving in three of Britain's biggest cities is risking the lives of passengers and other road users, a survey claims.

The survey failed 94% of cab drivers scrutinised in London, Manchester and Birmingham.

Undercover reporters and driving test examiners posed as paying customers to investigate their driving.

A spokesman for motoring magazine Auto Express, which carried out the study, said they were "shocked".

The magazine put 30 black cab and mini-cab drivers through a driving test without their knowledge using a team of "passengers".

'Intimidating other road users'

They claimed 94% failed to come up to the level required.

Lives are needlessly being put at risk and a driving test for cabbies should be mandatory.
Auto Express Editor-in-Chief, David Johns
In Manchester, they found black cab drivers broke the speed limit, accelerated aggressively up to junctions, ran red lights and slammed on the brakes.

One driver managed to hit 70mph in a 40mph zone, and on one occasion, took both hands off the steering wheel to play with his mobile according to researchers.

In London, driving examiner Colin O'Connell noted one driver who was intimidating other road users, while also hitting 60mph in a 30mph zone.

He said: "That's not the kind of behaviour anyone, especially paying customers, should have to put up with."

Another cabbie drove an entire 20-minute journey with a cup of hot coffee in his hand, according to the research team.

Tests 'should be mandatory'

In Birmingham, they claimed that a driver kept turning round to talk to his passengers, while another pulled out straight into the path of an oncoming car, forcing it to slam on its brakes.

The survey was carried out by reporters from the weekly motoring magazine Auto Express, working alongside experienced driving examiners.

Auto Express Editor-in-Chief, David Johns said: "We launched this investigation because of the poor standards of driving we've all experienced in taxis of both kinds.

"We didn't expect good driving in our survey - but we were shocked at how bad it was.

"Lives are needlessly being put at risk and a driving test for cabbies should be mandatory.

"If drivers are subsequently prosecuted for certain motoring offences - such as careless driving - they should lose their taxi licence."

But Jamie Owens of the Taxi Drivers' Society said: "I am amazed they found any driver able to do 60mph in London.

"But joking apart, you do have to be slightly aggressive although not over the top to drive in big cities.

"And in the last 55 years, only 12 people have been killed or injured while riding in black cabs. That is far fewer than in motoring, rail and air incidents."

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