Taxi firms try to slam brakes on Hanoi's driving duration limit

By Doan Loan   October 12, 2016 | 01:39 am PT
Taxi firms try to slam brakes on Hanoi's driving duration limit
A critical lack of parking in Hanoi has forced taxi drivers to keep driving around. Photo by Xuan Hoa
Drivers are being banned from the streets if they don't take a break every four hours.

Hanoi has introduced new traffic regulations that dictate taxi drivers must take at least a 15 minute break every four hours of continuous driving, or face a one-month ban.

The legal limits on drivers’ hours have benefited coach and bus drivers more than taxi drivers, said Nguyen Hong Minh, an executive of a taxi company.

Minh explained that taxi trips are not as lengthy as bus journeys so their drivers do not feel as tired.

People usually hail a cab to go short distances within the inner city, Minh continued, so it just doesn’t make sense to ask passengers to wait for drivers to take a break.

Taxi drivers can work for eight hours continuously as their schedule always includes 5-minute breaks between trips, Minh highlighted that these short breaks can add up to several hours per day and are completely legal under the new regulation.

“Most taxi drivers in Hanoi are migrant workers,” said Minh, implying that the penalty is too strict. “Without a driving permit for a month, the driver is technically out of job and as a business we suffer a huge loss.”

The Hanoi Transport Association has called for the regulations to be revised and suggested in the meantime the current limit be dropped, said Bui Danh Lien, the association's chairman.

A lack of parking lots in Hanoi forces taxi drivers to keep driving around until a parking space becomes available, Lien added.

“We’d like to propose a regulation under which taxi drivers can drive for hours continuously as long as they can squeeze in several short breaks of between 3 and 5 minutes long instead of a 15-minute break every four hours,” Lien said.

Transport authorities, after receiving complaints and proposals by taxi companies, are reviewing the regulation, which came into effect in July, said Nguyen Xuan Thuy, a senior official at the Transport Ministry.

However, the limit continues to be enforced, which means any taxi driver found at the wheel for longer than 10 hours per day or drives for four hours continuously without a 15-minute break will have their driving permits revoked for one month.

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