Accident numbers drive age fear
Cabbies aged 60 and above were involved in almost half of the taxi accidents in the SAR over the past three years, with some 7,000 people being injured, the Transport and Logistics Bureau said.
In a written reply to Legislative Council member Johnny Ng Kit-chong over whether it will take measures to step up health requirements and set an upper age limit for professional drivers, acting Secretary for Transport and Logistics Liu Chun-san said the government and an expert panel formed in June have reached a consensus on key recommendations.
He also said a team of consultants from the University of Hong Kong's School of Public Health has also offered advice and conducted studies on the panel's review.
"We expect to launch a consultation by the middle of this year," Liu said, adding that Legco's transport panel, the Transport Advisory Committee and the Road Safety Council will take part in the consultations.
He also reiterated that drivers aged 70 and above are currently legally required to produce a medical examination certificate not earlier than four months before applying for a commercial vehicle driving license.
The check-up takes in one's eyesight, mental state, skeletal and muscular system, balance and coordination, hearing and more, he added.
On concerns that young people are being discouraged from becoming professional drivers, Liu said the government is "encouraging [taxi] operators to create a better working environment by improving staff welfare (eg increasing wages and paid leave)."
Figures enclosed in Liu's reply show that some 7,000 people were injured in traffic accidents involving taxi drivers over the age of 60 over the past three years, some 470 of whom were seriously injured.
Cabbies aged between 40 and 59 were responsible for about 7,000 casualties.
No fatal taxi accident was recorded last year, but two people were killed in 2021, and another one in 2020.
Some 1,800 people were injured - 150 of them seriously - in minibus accidents involving drivers over 60, between 2020 and 2022. Those drivers were involved in some 70 percent of all minibus accidents.
Liu's remarks come just over a month after an 84-year-old taxi driver lost control of his cab and hit three pedestrians at a busy junction in North Point, sparking a new round of debate on whether there should be an upper age limit for taxi drivers.
A similar case in August 2021 saw a 63-year-old driver rammed his taxi into a pedestrian island on Kwong Fuk Road in Tai Po, leaving two people dead and eight injured.