The Department for Transport (DfT) have published safety screen guidance for drivers, operators and owners of taxis or private hire vehicles (PHVs).

The DfT “advice” includes:

  • Choosing a screen
  • Fitting a screen
  • Communicating with passengers
  • Inform your insurance provider
  • When a screen has been fitted
  • Definitions
  • Legislation

On the issue of legislation, the DfT guidance states the body of legislation governing road traffic law including the approval and use of vehicles is set out in the Road Traffic Act 1988, the Road Vehicle Approval Regulations 2020 and the Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations 1986.

All vehicles before being registered for use on roads in Great Britain need to be approved and any screen or partition fitted at the point of registration should be covered by the original vehicle approval.

Once the vehicle has been registered, the relevant legal requirements are Construction & Use (C&U). These regulations contain provisions that apply to all vehicles and components including requirements for the driver’s view, materials for partitions and the general safety of drivers and passengers, all of which are relevant to the choice and installation of screens in taxis and PHVs.

The guidance provides advice on the considerations you need to make to comply with these aspects of C&U.  It remains the responsibility of those operating a vehicle or those providing vehicles or components to the market to ensure compliance with legislation.

The Equality Act 2010 places duties on drivers and operators of taxis and PHVs with respect to disabled passengers and continues to apply where vehicles are fitted with screens or partitions.

With regard to insurance implications, the guidance is that, before licence holder fit a screen to their vehicle, they should consider the following:

  • inform your insurance provider. Failure to do so risks invalidating your policy
  • the Association of British Insurers (ABI) encourages drivers and operators to seek guidance from their insurer to ensure compliance with the terms of their insurance policy
  • check with your insurer whether, following a collision, screen repairs or a replacement screen would be included in your insurance cover

Stephen McCaffrey

Regulatory defence barrister specialising in taxi and private hire licensing law, appeals and defence.

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