HK cab drivers should be limited to two mobile phones

It is not uncommon to see taxi drivers in Hong Kong with more than two mobile devices on their dashboards, and the Urban Taxi Drivers Association wants this practice to stop.

Cab drivers in Hong Kong should not be allowed to carry more than two mobile phones on their dashboards--a practice which is common in the Chinese territory. 

The Urban Taxi Drivers Association Joint Committee said placing multiple handsets on the dashboard restricted the driver's view of the road, and answering calls and sending text messages were a distraction. The trade union's chairman Kwan Yuk-Wah said he came across one taxi driver who strapped 12 mobile phones on his dashboard, according to a report by South China Morning Post (SCMP). 

Local laws prohibit the use of handheld devices while driving, and drivers who put others at risk by handling a touchscreen device or handset while driving can face charges. 

Kwan estimated that 90 percent of cab drivers with multiple phones supported unofficial groups that offer fares below the meter rate, or "discount cabs". He added that these drivers accounted for some 30 percent of Hong Kong's community of 18,000 licensed taxi drivers.  

"Their phones are for business [and] their customer hotlines, but they have to answer phones or read texts, write down bookings, and then communicate with their team members while driving," he said. "We have received a lot of complaints from terrified passengers where taxis were zigzagging across the road while drivers took phone bookings."

During a meeting between the Transport Department and taxi unions last month, Kwan said he recommended for a ban to be implemented restricting cab drivers from carrying more than two mobile phones. 

A spokesperson from the Transport and Housing Bureau told SCMP it had been monitoring how motorists used mobile phones while driving and carry out do a review soon. It currently had no plans, though, to tweak existing laws governing the issue, he said.