The NZ Transport Agency says the substantial fines imposed on two Auckland taxi drivers for abusing safety laws restricting the hours they can work by will serve as a reminder to the industry that the agency is committed to ensuring public safety and will not hesitate to prosecute drivers or operators where violations of transport law are detected.
Sameh Soliman Gayed, a driver for Corporate Cabs Auckland, was fined a total of $1992 after pleading guilty to 14 charges laid for a variety of offences against the Land Transport Act 1998. The charges included multiple violations of working more than 13 hours in a work day, working more than 70 hours in a work week, not taking mandatory rest breaks and of falsifying his log book details to cover his offending.
Arthur Kiata, a driver for Auckland City Cabs Combined, was fined a total of $6720 after admitting 24 charges under the Act involving excessive hours and false log book details. Kiata was also disqualified for a minimum of one month from a holding a commercial transport endorsement on his driver’s licence.
An NZTA enforcement operation that led to the two prosecutions followed complaints involving several taxi drivers operating in Auckland – particularly from the city’s airport.
Andy Thackwray, area manager of the NZTA’s Access and Use group responsible for policing the taxi industry, says the complaints involved fatigue among drivers, some of whom were accused of falling asleep at the wheel, while others failed to stop at red lights or ignored other road rules.
“Exceeding the work-hour rule and falsifying log books will not be tolerated by the NZTA. The NZTA is serious about enforcing these safety regulations and if detected, offenders will be prosecuted.”
“The law is quite clear: in a 24 hour period drivers can only work a maximum of 13 hours before they have to take a mandatory break of 10 continuous hours,” Mr Thackwray adds. “It is their responsibility, and the responsibility of those operating taxi companies, to ensure the law is observed so that people retain
confidence in the industry.”
Electronic records produced in court showed that on one occasion, Mr Kiata had been on duty for a minimum of 26 hours and 29 minutes – almost 13- and-a-half hours over the maximum allowed by law before he was required to take a mandatory rest.
Evidence produced by the NZTA against Mr Gayed showed that his logbook had been falsified to indicate that he had kept to the 13 hour work time rule, when electronic records showed that he had violated the rule several times.
Mr Thackwray reminded drivers and their operators of the role of Auckland International Airport as the principal gateway to New Zealand for next year’s Rugby World Cup.
“A lot of the rugby fans arriving at the airport will be depending on taxis for their transport and they should be able to do that with the knowledge that they are getting a first class and safe service. Drivers who ignore the 13 hour work time rule are a danger to themselves, they are a danger to their passengers and they are a danger to other roads users.”