To ask the Minister for Transport if there is an obligation on the drivers of taxis and hackneys to carry accompanied children of any age; and if he intends to introduce regulations to ensure that such vehicles carry a baby seat or child seat or other restraint device suitable for children, such as the child seatbelt in use on aircraft.
- Ciarán Cuffe.
For WRITTEN answer on Thursday, 8th July, 2004.
Ref No: 21178/04
Answered by the Minister for Transport
Under the public service vehicles regulations, whenever a person requests the driver of a vehicle used as a taxi standing for hire in a taximeter area to drive him or her to a specified place in that area, the driver must comply with the request unless, inter alia, the person making the request fails to tender the lawful fare or the driver has other reasonable excuse for refusing or failing to comply with the request.
Other regulatory provisions require the driver to take all reasonable precautions to ensure the safety of persons in, on, entering or alighting from the vehicle. Interpretation of the regulations and of any other statutory provisions in any particular case is ultimately a matter for the Courts.
In general, each occupant of a passenger car is required to wear a safety belt or an appropriate child restraint, as the case may be. The driver of a vehicle is obliged to ensure that an occupant of the vehicle who is under 17 years of age is either restrained by an appropriate child restraint or, provided she/he is 4 years old and upwards, is wearing a safety belt.
The requirement to wear a safety belt does not apply in respect of the use of a vehicle in which the fitment of safety belts is not mandatory. However, cars registered on or after 1 January 1992 are required to have safety belts fitted to all forward facing seats.
Fitment of an appropriate child restraint is not mandatory in vehicles. Accordingly, the duty of the driver to ensure that a restraint is worn is subject to the availability of such a restraint in a vehicle.
The Regulations which deal with the fitment and wearing of safety belts and restraint systems, the Road Traffic (Construction, Equipment and Use of Vehicles) Regulations, 1991 (S.I. No. 359 of 1991), define an appropriate child restraint as an approved child restraint which is appropriate to the user by virtue of the weight range indicated on the restraint. The Regulations specify approval authorities and approval marks.
It appears that there are gaps in the regulations, which has given rise to some confusion, particularly regarding the status under the regulations of the law regarding the carrying of children under four years of age. As the safety of children in this age category is paramount it is my intention to tidy up the regulations and to close the gaps.