December 15, 2009
The tragic death of a Yorkshire teenager has sparked new controversy over cabbies’ working hours.
Gary Glymond had just seen his team pull-off a massive quarter-final shock when little Barnsley beat the high-rollers of Chelsea 1-0 to dump the then holders out of the 2008 FA Cup. But Gary’s perfect day – his 18th birthday as well – turned to tragedy as he walked home from celebrations in the town around 3.00am. He was just yards from home when he was struck and killed by a Vauxhall Vectra taxi.
Cab driver Lee Sewell was found guilty of driving without due care and attention after traveling at between 40 and 42mph in a 30mph zone, then hitting Mr. Glymond on a pedestrian crossing.
At Barnsley Magistrates Court Mr. Sewell was disqualified for 12 months and fined £500. Understandably perhaps, Gary’s family was outraged by what they saw as a very lenient punishment for taking their son’s life.
Fact: Sewell was speeding; the impact threw young Gary 120 feet across the road
Fact: The court also heard that Sewell had been working for about 14 hours at the time of the incident.
Call for Limit
Gary’s dad, Martin Glymond, 39, commented: “There are no laws governing the length of time taxi drivers can work. How can anybody concentrate after 14 hours at the wheel. It’s wrong.”
On the other hand Mr. Sewell, 25, – a regular night shift driver – said that it was usual for him to work up to 14 hours on a Saturday and denied feeling tired as a result, adding: “It’s what I’m used to.”
Following the case and a petition raised by Gary’s family, national road safety campaign ‘Brake’ has called for a limit to be set on the number of hours cabbies can work in a shift.
Of course, cabbies don’t want to work forever at a time but the hard facts are that many increasingly have to work longer and longer hours just to make a decent living wage. This view, in turn, has turned attention back to the question of deregulation.
George Jenkinson, from Darlington, for example, responded to Brake’s campaign on cabbie hours by calling on his local licensing authority to act to cap license numbers. George commented: “The problem is simply that there are too many cabs on the road. When I first started in the early Seventies, there were only around 70 cars. Now there’s knocking on 300, plus others from outside. It’s true that drivers work long hours but that’s because they are forced to in order to make a living.”
George continued: ““I know of a lot of drivers who don’t even make minimum wage. Therefore the only option is to work long hours to make ends meet. The solution to this, and to preventing more deaths, is for the council to cap the number of vehicles operating.”
Speaking for Brake, Helena Houghton commented: “We need to be making sure that people are not put under pressure, especially in the current economic climate, to work more hours.”