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    Sep 21, 2016

    Cabbies to get alerts for speed cams, red lights

    IN A bid to boost road safety, taxi drivers will receive alerts whenever they are approaching

    red lights and speed cameras.

    Audio and visual warnings will be issued through the mobile display terminals (MDTs) in their cars.

    The initiative, announced yesterday, is aimed at reducing the numbers of accidents and traffic violations among cabbies - a group the Traffic Police (TP) have identified as vulnerable owing to the

    long hours they spend on the road.

    The MDT alerts, triggered when the cabbies are about 500m away from a traffic enforcement camera, will be rolled out in over 20,500 taxis from the ComfortDelGro and SMRT fleets.

    They account for 74 per cent of taxis here.

    ComfortDelGro will update the MDTs of its 17,000-strong fleet from next month while SMRT will push it out from next year in its 3,500 taxis.

    MDTs are already installed in most taxis

    and cabbies use them to take bookings

    or get updates from their companies.

    The National Taxi Association and the TP are hoping the other three operators - Trans-Cab, Premier and Prime - will also come onboard.

    They run a combined 7,300 taxis.

    TP commander Sam Tee said: "TP sees the taxi drivers as a vulnerable group on the road partly because they spend many hours on the road."

    The new MDT feature will allow cabbies "to be alerted... drive safe, and not get into traffic summons situations". He added that cabbies will also get real-time updates of nearby traffic accidents.

    Land Transport Authority data showed that most cab firms were unable to consistently meet a safety service standard - that there should be no more than 0.02 accident per 100,000km clocked each.

    Over a six-month period from April to September last year, SMRT failed the standard thrice, Premier and Prime each fell short twice, and Comfort, once.

    CityCab, which is run by ComfortDelGro, and Trans-Cab passed the criterion for all six months.

    Edna Tan, head of partner relations at SMRT Taxis, said cabbies beating the red light is a major cause of accidents. The new MDT feature will hopefully address this problem, she added.

    Taxi drivers have to pay their firms between $3,000 and $5,000 when they meet with an accident. "So one accident itself will actually wipe out the whole month of driver income, so we are very concerned."

    The new alert system could help. A six-month pilot from October last year to March for 3,800 taxis from ComfortDelGro saw improvements.

    Speeding violations decreased by 40 per cent, compared with the pre-trial period from April to September last year. Running-red-light infractions dropped by 34 per cent.