Local Council Plans “MOT” of Driver Health
Taxi drivers working across Aberdeen could soon be made to undergo a “health MOT” in order to make sure they are fit enough to work.
Aberdeenshire council has already set out plans to include medicals as part of the licensing process, and a consultation on how to roll out the scheme has now been launched.
Currently, only drivers over the age of 70 or with a pre-declared medical condition are required to undergo a council medical, and only before being granted a license. However, a council sub-committee has suggested that medicals should be enforced for drivers of all ages when applying for or renewing a license.
Unsurprisingly, the idea has been met with harsh criticism from of the area’s 2000 drivers, many of whom work in predominantly rural areas, with one warning that a compulsory medical may deter colleagues from continuing their work.
Stewart Wight of Laurencekirk firm Safe Drive described the proposals as an “utter farce”. He said: “The Group 2 medical plan is far too onerous. It will have a huge effect on the trade, as many of the drivers who carry out the school runs are only registered as taxi drivers because they were asked to by the council. Most I have spoken to will probably give up if this goes through.”
Aberdeenshire does currently have a similar scheme in place for Bin lorry drivers, who need to pass a regular medical in order to continue working for the council. However, as other in-house drivers are exempt from the test, some have accused the council of double standards.
Operator Amanda Reid understands the reasoning behind the proposals, but thinks that they need further thought, saying: “If some of the drivers who are employed by the council for their own in-house fleet of buses do not hold valid Group 2 PCV driving licences and they still do not have to undergo medicals -then perhaps they should also be considering implementing a medical requirement for them as well. I think a lot of operators and drivers will see this as double standards.”
“I can see why they are looking to ensure that all drivers are medically fit but I also think that it could have serious financial and driver shortage consequences for the trade.”
In reply to the response from Aberdeenshire’s taxi industry, Councillor Fergus Hood of the authority’s licensing committee said: “There are more than 2,000 taxi and private hire car operators and drivers in Aberdeenshire and it’s important that we hear as many views as possible before deciding on the best way to introduce the medical assessment scheme.” A separate spokesperson for the council also did not rule out expanding the scheme to cover all council drivers.
Consultations on the proposal will begin on the 29th November, running through to December 8th. A separation online consultation is also planned before the council makes a final decision.