ST. JOHN’S, NL – More rigorous requirements for taxi drivers and vehicles in Newfoundland and Labrador will come into effect on July 1 of this year.
The changes focus on drivers’ skills, experience driving in Newfoundland and Labrador road conditions, driving history, passenger safety and vehicle safety.
“We have developed these policies to help strengthen the industry and also enhance road safety for the travelling public,” Service NL Minister Sherry Gambin-Walsh said in a news release on Wednesday, May 16.
The provincial government consulted the taxi industry before developing the amendments.
Newfound Cabs in St. John’s is among the taxi companies supporting the new rules.
“The changes announced today will serve to increase the professionalism in the taxi industry across the province,” said Derek Hayter of Newfound Cabs.
There are over 800 taxis registered in Newfoundland and Labrador.
Taxi industry policy amendments
Current: There is no requirement for persons seeking a Class 4 taxi driver’s licence to have any specialized driving training.
Change: New drivers seeking a taxi driver’s licence will have to successfully complete the defensive driving course; complete an on-road assessment and up to five hours practical driving experience from a professional driving school, which must include highway and urban driving, parking in traffic and backing-up scenarios; and successfully complete a test in traffic administered by a Motor Registration Division driver examiner.
Current: To obtain a Class 4 taxi licence, a driver must hold a Class 5 driver’s licence for at least one year, meet medical standards and pass a written exam.
Change: New applicants will have to hold a Class 5 licence for at last two years; pass a written exam which will include questions on pre-trip inspection; and pass a road test that will include new areas such as performing daily vehicle inspections and in-traffic testing, including highway driving, parking and backing-up scenarios.
Current: Individuals from jurisdictions with whom no driver’s licence reciprocity agreement exists must hold a Class 5 licence for one year before they can apply for a Class 4 taxi only licence.
Change: Individuals from jurisdictions with whom Newfoundland Labrador does not have a driver’s licence reciprocity agreement will have to hold a Class 5 driver’s licence for two years before being eligible to apply for a Class 4 licence. All other previously listed criteria will apply.
Current: Past driving habits are not used to determine if a person should be permitted to continue to hold a Class 4 taxi licence.
Change: Driving record review for all Class 4 taxi drivers will be conducted annually. Class 4 taxi licence will be revoked based on: three or more Highway Traffic Act driving-related convictions or accidents in a two-year period; administrative suspension of licence; and Criminal Code conviction related to driving or Highway Traffic Act conviction related to bodily harm and/or death. Eligibility for reinstatement will depend on the driving record.
Current: Taxis are required to have one inspection annually at an official inspection station (OIS) but are not mandated to report results to the Motor Registration Division.
Change: Taxis will be required to provide a copy of their OIS inspection to the Motor Registration Division. A minimum of 30 per cent of an operator’s fleet will be randomly selected and inspected by the Motor Registration Division. Inspections will focus on vehicle and driver fitness and examination of daily pre-trip logs. Violations could result in charges against the drivers and/or owner operator under the Highway Traffic Act.