The safety of up to 3,000 taxi drivers has received a massive boost with the approval of new driver protection screens for cabs with side-curtain air bags, Minister for Public Transport and Roads Terry Mulder announced today.
Speaking at a screen manufacturer in Tullamarine, in the wake of the series of horrendous attacks against taxi drivers in Melbourne's west, Mr Mulder said the new screens were a big win for driver safety.
"These new screens give cabbies the protection they need to feel safer at work," Mr Mulder said.
"There were around 1,000 taxis out there with side curtain airbags that, up until now, had no compatible driver protection screen.
"The approval of the new screen means up to 3,000 drivers who previously didn't have access to a protection screen now do, and that's a good thing.
"In light of ongoing driver-safety issues, such as the horrific events of a few weeks ago, this is a big win for driver safety."
Where an approved model exists, it has been mandatory for drivers to have access to a protection screen since 2008. Until now, no screen for an FG Falcon with side-curtain airbags has existed. The approval of the new screen by the Victorian Taxi Directorate means there is now an approved driver protection screen for every Falcon on the road.
"The FG Falcon with side-curtain airbags is the fastest growing make of taxi on Melbourne's roads, so to have a screen that fits in this vehicle is really important," Mr Mulder said.
"We want drivers to feel safe when they are at work so people have access to reliable and convenient taxi services, particularly late at night.
"As a vocal advocate of driver safety and respect, I'm pleased to see these screens approved."
There were 371 attacks on cab drivers last financial year.
For more information about driver screens, and more initiatives to improve driver safety, particularly the Respect your Cabbie campaign, visit www.taxi.vic.gov.au