Pedestrian Council of Australia

Safety – Amenity – Access – Health

The Walking Class Heroes


Thursday 5 April 2012

(Embargoed to midnight - Wednesday 4 April 2012)
NSW Taxi Drivers Must Wear Seat Belts
Passengers Seriously at Risk

Background:  For over a decade the PCA has been campaigning to get the NSW Government to enact legislation requiring NSW taxi drivers to wear seat-belts.  It fell on deaf ears, with the former Labor Government, kowtowing to their mates in Sussex Street.  This has allowed this "protected species" to risk not only their own, but their passengers' lives and limbs.  All other jurisdictions, except Queensland, require taxi drivers to wear seat-belts at all times.  But at least in Queensland, taxi drivers must wear a seat-belt, if they are not carrying passengers.  It is also widely rumoured that many taxi drivers deactivate their airbags, because they can decapitate an unbelted driver.

The tragic death of a taxi driver in inner Sydney last Friday, has prompted our calls for urgent action.

The Chairman of the PCA, Harold Scruby said:  "For over a decade, we have been pleading with successive NSW Roads and Transport Minsters to require taxi drivers to wear seat-belts.  They did nothing.  In 2003 and 2007, we asked WorkCover to examine the problem.  We stated that employees who were required to take taxis (public transport) during working hours were at very serious risk, being required to sit next to or in a taxi, where the driver was not wearing a seat-belt.   We claimed that WorkCover had a responsibility  to act.  They did nothing, except pass-the-parcel back to the RTA.

"The good news is that under the O'Farrell government, WorkCover is now looking at the issue and following our lobbying in July 2011, the Ministers for Transport and Roads have commissioned an inquiry into the matter.  A copy of our recent letter to the Minister for Transport, the Hon Gladys Berejiklian and correspondence with Workcover are attached.

"We feel confident that now Sussex Street is no longer running NSW, the NSW Government will see the compelling case for requiring all taxi drivers in NSW to wear seat-belts at all times and amend the legislation without delay." Mr Scruby said.

Copies of relevant correspondence dating back almost a decade can be found at:

Contact:  Harold Scruby - (0418) 110-011 - See full details at 

From: Pedestrian Council (Gmail) []
Sent: Wednesday, 21 March 2012 8:11 PM

The Hon Gladys Berejiklian

Subject: Taxi Drivers Not Wearing Seat-Belts in NSW

The Hon Gladys Berejiklian
Minister for Transport

Cc: The Hon Duncan Gay – Minister for Roads

Cc: Mr Les Wielinga – D-G Transport NSW
cc: Mr Peter Duncan – CE – RMS

Dear Minister

Taxi Drivers Not Wearing Seat-Belts in NSW

As discussed at our meeting on 7 July 2011, we have been campaigning for taxi drivers in NSW to be required to wear seat-belts for over a decade.

It remains one of the most extraordinary anomalies in Road Safety, probably in Australia.

I recall the former D-G of Transport, Jock Murray challenging me to get the law changed, because he had no luck.

Taxi drivers in NSW aren’t even required to wear seat-belts when they have no passengers.

Yet they are a vital part of the public transport mix and apart from the incredible risks they place on themselves, they create enormous risks for their passengers.

You only have to view these two video clips to be convinced:

Yet while taxi drivers in Victoria and the ACT (and even Dubai and China) are required to wear seat-belts – not so in NSW, where taxi drivers are a protected species.

So, having failed to persuade any of the previous Labor ministers to do anything, many years ago, we have tried to persuade Workcover to look at it from the perspective of an employee being required to travel in a taxi during working hours, sitting next to a taxi driver without a seat-belt.

While we failed dismally several years ago, Ms Carmel Donnelly, General Manager Strategy & Performance Division, with whom I worked when she was at the MAA, has indicated that she and her team are looking at the problem.

Copies of the correspondence are below.

In 2008, taxi drivers blockaded the Melbourne CBD

(QUOTE): “They are angry about a lack of adequate safety and security measures for drivers following the stabbing of a 23-year-old driver from Reservoir yesterday.”

The fact that they are required to wear seat-belts at all times was never mentioned.

So if it’s not a safety issue in Victoria, why on earth are NSW taxi drivers not required to wear seat-belts.

We seek your assistance in correcting this ridiculous anomaly without any further delay.



Harold Scruby
Pedestrian Council of Australia Limited

From: Donnelly, Carmel
Sent: Thursday 19 January 2012 6:16 PM
Subject: RE: Seat Belts: Inquiry into the NSW Taxi Industry

Hi Harold

I would be happy to formulate a new reply letter

Just in the meantime, I have had a couple of quick conversations with senior colleagues and there is interest in considering what can be done about this issue.



Carmel Donnelly
General Manager Strategy & Performance Division
WorkCover NSW


From: Pedestrian Council

Sent: Wednesday 18 January 2012 2:43 PM

To: Carmel Donnelly (WorkCover NSW)

Subject: Seat Belts: Inquiry into the NSW Taxi Industry

Hi Carmel

Good to talk again, finally, this afternoon.

Here’s some of the correspondence re taxi drivers not wearing seat-belts.

Unbelievably, in spite of our submission to the Taxi Industry Inquiry, the matter did not even rate a mention, although it did find:

2.46 In addition, a passenger should be able to travel in a taxi that is smoke free, clean, tidy and well maintained. A passenger’s responsibilities include paying the correct fare, wearing a seat belt, not acting offensively and not asking a driver to stop illegally or unsafely.63

A couple of years ago, we wrote yet again to “WorkCover: Watching out for you” (watching, maybe, but doing absolutely nothing about the safety of passengers and drivers in taxis), regarding the rights of workers to travel in taxis during working hours in taxis (public transport) – in safety.

We received another of Mr Blackwell classic pass-the-parcel replies – straight off the word processor.

But for some reason, I just can’t find it.

Would you please see if you can send me the copies of the correspondence: ours and yours.

In the meantime, please watch these 2 videos. I’m sure you’ll agree that no-one in the safety industry should remain silent while NSW taxi drivers are allowed to drive around unbuckled. It’s a scandal.

PS; Taxi drivers in Victoria and ACT have been required to wear seat-belts at all times for well over a decade. There are no complaints.



Harold Scruby


Pedestrian Council of Australia Limited


Monday, 22 February 2012

Dear Cathryn

As discussed, we will send you copies of correspondence, reports and photographs, so you can get an idea of the extent of the dangerous practices and offences committed by taxi drivers throughout NSW.

It is at epidemic levels.

You have advised me you will bring this information before the members of the Inquiry.

Below is information regarding seat-belts.

Attached is a video clip entitled “Sleepy Cabbie”. It also highlights the extraordinary potential for harm, not only for the driver, but to all passengers, when an occupant is un-belted.

Please bring to the attention of the committee that when Victorian taxi drivers blockaded Tullamarine and the CBD in 2008, over safety reforms (following the stabbing of a driver), NOT ONE DRIVER OBJECTED TO BEING REQUIRED TO WEAR A SEAT-BELT

It’s been compulsory for taxi drivers in Victoria to wear seat-belts for over a decade.

They are even required to wear seat-belts in countries like China and Dubai (which have nowhere near our Road Safety record)

Yet NSW taxi drivers do not even have to wear them when there are no passengers in the cab.

Legislation requiring NSW taxi drivers to wear seat-belts must be enacted without any further delay.

As you can see, requests for WorkCover to intervene have fallen on deaf ears. We tried to convince WorkCover that a passenger in a taxi (which is public transport), who is required to take the taxi by his/her employer during working hours, is at serious risk in a vehicle where there is an unbuckled occupant (the driver). As you can see from all the correspondence dating back to 2003, all they ever do is pass-the-parcel.

Let’s hope your Committee can get some results.

Further correspondence re illegal parking will follow.

Many thanks



Harold Scruby

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

The Committee would welcome a submission to the inquiry from the Pedestrian Council of Australia. Submissions can be made via this email address.

The Committee has already held three public hearings, the transcripts of which are available on the Committee's website. At this stage, the Committee has no plans to hold additional public hearings.

If you would like to discuss this matter, please contact me on 9230 3528


Cathryn Cummins
Principal Council Officer - Committees


Tuesday, 9 February 2010

The Hon John Ajaka MLC

NSW Parliamentary Select Committee

Inquiry into the NSW Taxi Industry

Dear Sir

I am currently overseas and it has just been brought to my attention that the deadline for submissions o this inquiry finished on 22 January 2010.

We have some vitally important information to provide to the Committee including:

1 Information regarding the non wearing of seat-belts by NSW taxi drivers and the potential for harm to passengers and drivers (they are required to wear them in ACT and Victoria) and correspondence with WorkCover:

2 The results of our FoI regarding the non-enforcement of the law in relation to taxi driver parking offences, part of which was reported in the SMH on

We wish to address the committee.

We look forward to your urgent reply.

Many thanks.

101201 NSW Govt Response - Taxi industry report

NSW Parliamentary Inquiry Taxi Industry - Final report