back to article Hong Kong’s mobile-mad cabbies told to ditch dashboard devices

Hong Kong’s taxi drivers may soon have to give up on the common practice of driving with multiple smartphones attached to the dashboard, after a union branded it dangerous. The Urban Taxi Drivers Association Joint Committee said that the handsets not only make it difficult for cabbies to see the road properly but also distract …


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  1. John Tserkezis

    "Perhaps the local police would be better off cracking down on local cabbies’ unorthodox approach to driving. This includes switching lanes without indicating, running red lights and, on one terrifying occasion, nodding off at the wheel whilst smoking a naughty cigarette."

    And this is different from cabbies in other parts of the world how?

    1. Peter Simpson 1

      It's a requirement, right?

      Driver MUST be from a country other than the one he's driving a cab in.

      Driver MUST not speak or understand more than 10 words in the language of the country he's in.

      Driver MUST not use turn signals.

      Driver MUST have working horn, and is required to utilize it at every opportunity.

      Cabbies -- the same the world over...

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Taxis are pretty safe here, as there aren't any roads sufficiently clear to get up any speed. I'm not sure what research is required. Get into any cab and it'll rarely have less than 3 phones attached to the console. Seen a few with 10" tablets.

    If they could ban teeth-sucking and the digital approach to throttle management this would be a much better real world improvement.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    From experience

    I would say HK taxis are safer than Russian taxis, at least in HK you have a seat belt; the last time I went in a Russian taxi, all the seatbelt mounts were missing.

    1. Bloakey1

      Re: From experience

      Taxis in Russia?

      Nahh. I just step to the kerb and hail whoever stops. I have been in some of the worst cars on the planet using this approach and I have met people from strange Soviet dominions who all seem to like having the heat up to sweltering.

      The old brown and white Taliban taxis in Abu Dhabi can be a joy,

    2. Soruk

      Re: From experience

      Those north of the border (at least in Kaiping) seemed to treat road signs, road markings and traffic lights as pure decorations and nothing else. Somehow I lived to tell this.

    3. TechnicalBen Silver badge

      Re: From experience

      They get seat belts?

      I've been in a taxi in the UK, where the driver got out and said:

      "You sit in back, yes."

      We opened the door, there were no seats. We mention this.

      "I take out. This good, you sit."

      During the journey, he then proceeded to try (we thankfully interrupted his attempt with "we don't drive on that side of the road!") to turn into an off ramp to a highway.

      The best bit, the taxi was hired for our Managing Director (Multi-million pound massively popular national business) who just 2 hours ago had flown here in his personal Helicopter. I now think he preferred the flight over the drive for safety. Not sure who hired the taxi, and if they ever returned to work. ;)

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: From experience

      Russian taxi drivers drive better when juiced up on vodka.

  4. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

    I particularly enjoyed Chicago taxis. They're perfectly safe once you're in them, and seemed to have a pretty relaxed attitude to all the jams. I guess the meter's running, why worry.

    It was the pick-up that was 'interesting'. Approved method seemed to be that when you stuck an arm out to hail one, the driver would simply turn the wheel until the cab was aimed directly at you, and depress the accelerator. Brakes were only applied once the cab was at least halfway up onto the kerb, pretty much exactly where you would have been standing, if you hadn't just run for cover. Whichever lane of traffic they were in didn't matter either, as none ever seemed to hesitate, or bother with indicators. They'd just come in like a kamikaze.

    There were many cabs, so I can understant that speed is required, in order to avoid someone else stealing the fare. I just struggle to understand how they expect to get repeat custom, if they kill all the customers.

    1. TRT Silver badge

      Too much...

      Simpson's Road Rage.

  5. Richard Crossley

    Try taking one in China

    Multiple phones and they drive as if they are walking. If a vehicle pulls in front of you, you swerve to avoid them. If you are hit in the side it's the 3rd party's, the one who hit you, fault. Ignore the fact there were no signals or communication and you were possibly on the wrong side of tge road. This in the reasonbly sensible city if Shenzhen. YMMV in more remote areas.

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: Try taking one in China

      That reminds me of living in Brussels. Trams have immunity. Any crash is automatically the other party's fault. On dual carriageways (with concrete tramways in the central reservation), taxis are allowed to bypass traffic by driving in the tramways. This scared the crap out of me the first time I was in a cab that did it though. I wonder how many accidentally end up going down the tram tunnels?

      The result is game of chicken with 30 tonne trams! When the cab can't get off the tramway, due to trying to rejoin the normal traffic, and there's a tram zooming up behind him - things can get interesting quite quickly...

      I wonder if it's a co-incidence that the tram drivers are apparently bitter that they're paid less than the taxi drivers?

      1. Matt 21

        Re: Try taking one in China

        Trams are only "immune" while they remain on the tracks... just to add an interesting tit-nit :-)

        I don't think you'll ever get the problem of taxis going into tunnels as those trams run on more traditional tracks rather than the ones embedded in ordinary road tarmac.

        I did once take a taxi in Brussels with an Iranian taxi driver who didn't really speak English, Dutch or French and we ended up driving the wrong way up a dual carriageway into the path of an artic lorry. I have to admire the taxi drivers bottle though, he tried to ask the lorry driver for directions after we were both forced to stop!

    2. Euripides Pants Silver badge

      Re: Try taking one in China

      Traffic in Beijing and Tianjin is equally terrifying.

  6. Wize

    Was in one recently who was too busy fiddling with his taxi booking system phone thingie to fully watch the road. Had to point out to him there was an empty taxi lane beside the queue of cars we were stuck in.

    Ban them from having more than one device on the screen and they will have a tablet and a mini wifi network connected to all the phones in his glove box, scraping the messages from each device.

    1. Alan Brown Silver badge

      "Ban them from having more than one device on the screen and they will have a tablet and a mini wifi network connected to all the phones in his glove box, scraping the messages from each device."

      That would probably be safer. (modulo mad driving stories)

  7. handle

    arse over tit

    "This reporter has travelled in Hong Kong cabs with as many as eight dashboard-mounted mobile phones and they’re no safer than those with none."

    Erm yes, and...? Or has the "can't underestimate" sense reversal disease spread further?

  8. killban1971

    China Taxis

    Mostly in China, the taxis obey the rules of the road. What they are, no body knows.

    Lines are for road decoration, and are seemingly meaningless. Traffic lights are pretty colours that change occasionally.

    Seat belts in the back of most taxis in Shanghai do not exist, and in the front finding a fully working belt and buckle is a task and a half.

    After living there for two years though, I was not once in an accident, so the drivers peripheral vision must be awesome.

  9. James Hughes 1


    Never ceases to amaze how many people in the UK have a TomTom or similar stuck right in the middle of their windscreen. Given that a little stone chip can be an MOT failure due to it limiting visibility, one wonders why people think planting a damn great lump of plastic on their screen is a good idea. I hate having any sort of view obstructed when I drive - I really don't want to hit anything.

    I also particular enjoy it when it snows, and see all those people who have cleared a small area in front of their eyes rather than the whole screen. I can only assume they must be Jedi.

    1. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

      Re: TomTom

      Agreed with regard to the windscreen scraping - do it all or don't do it at all - but not so much with the sat nav. I don't think I've ever seen anyone with a one "right in the middle of the screen", if by that you mean half-way up and along the screen. I have mine as low down the screen on the approximate centre-line of the car, such that the sat nav is essentially on the level of screen I can only see the bonnet through. I have tried other places and found them unsatisfactory - having the satnav on the same line as the mirror, and at approximately the same distance away, means that I don't have to continually adjust focus if I need to look at the screen (though I rely very heavily on voice instructions most of the time). Of course, YMMV.

  10. cortland

    Taxi [non?] joke

    Brothers under the skin when the bits are picked up, though.

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