Cabbies push back at ‘reckless’ label

June 14, 2024
Lorraine Finnikin
Lorraine Finnikin

Transport operators have pushed back at critics who routinely label them as unruly and reckless, insisting that most drivers are decent and wrongly judged.

According to Lorraine Finnikin, president and director of communications for the All Voice Taxi Association, the unruly and reckless transport operators are in the minority.

"The general public view us as indisciplined because there is a reputable individual in this country that refers to us as 'menace to society'. There is a minister of government who refers to us as 'weapons of mass destruction', and there is a pastor in this country who referred to us just a couple days ago as 'terrorist'," Finnikin said. He told THE WEEKEND STAR that the labels are unfortunate and unwarranted, arguing that disorder is not unique to the transport sector.

"I am not disagreeing with the fact that we have bad drivers in the sector, but the bad drivers and the disorderly conduct is not a reflection of what and who the public transportation sector is," Finnikin said.

He continued: "I want to make it categorically clear that in every sector of this country that I am aware of, you have indiscipline and disorder within them. But when those members, who are always the few, fall in the line of indiscipline and disorder, the whole sector is not characterised as indisciplined."

"Right in our highest house of law, the Parliament of Jamaica, on any given week, you can find heights of indiscipline in the Parliament. But whoever is involved in the indiscipline and the disorderly conduct, the entire Parliament has never been put in the position that the entire Parliament is indisciplined," Finnikin argued.

Data from the Road Safety Unity in the transport ministry show that at least 180 persons have died in crashes since the start of the year. Motorcyclists (19 per cent), pedestrians (16 per cent) and private motor vehicle drivers (11 per cent) were the top three road user categories with the highest number of road fatalities. Public passenger vehicle drivers account for two per cent of the road users killed since the start of the year. Of note, the data does now indicate what portion of the deadly crashes involved private motor vehicle drivers which were illegally operating as taxis.

Meanwhile, Finnikin said that transport operators are unfairly blamed for the high percentages of accidents on the road.

"Every time we get blamed for road crashes, carnage on the road, speeding, and you can name the list of it," Finnikin said.

"Every time there is an accident on the road, even if a red plate turns up to assist people out of that accident, the first thing yuh hear is a taxi man cause it, enuh, -- even when he's not involved in the accident," Finnikin said.

He told THE WEEKEND STAR that he strongly advocates for the punishment of indisciplined taxi drives, not only to limit the negative perspective of the sector but also for public safety. He said that in cases where a driver has a record of repeated recklessness, he should never be allowed to drive or carry passengers.

"When they go through the record and see that John Brown have a habit of running red light, breaking stop sign, reckless, careless and dangerous driving, driving under the influence of alcohol and all of those dangerous offences, I personally wouldn't want to see that driver getting a reprieve. I would want that driver out a the system," Finnikin said.

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