NAT_160924_TAXI_AD Taxis waiting for customers in Abu Dhabi. Photo Ahmed Kutty/Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: The capital’s public taxis are closely monitored for speeding and reckless driving and erring drivers face a three-month suspension, an official has said.

The taxi regulating authority, the Centre of Regulation for Transport By Hire Cars (TransAD), has recently been certified for the safety standards in its vehicles, which are ensured by in-car cameras and a rigorous tracking system for all taxis, Mohammad Al Qamzi, general manager at TransAD, told Gulf News.

“An average taxi travels about 375 kilometres every day, but we have an extremely low incident rate, specifically 0.7 per cent per 100,000 kilometres. We also have a rigorous system in place to monitor any incidents and ensure that they do not recur,” Al Qamzi said.

“We are also working to further enhance safety, including the introduction of a system that will soon ensure better complaint resolution. Once it is implemented, investigators will have to call up every customer who has made a complaint before corrective action is taken,” he added.

TransAD has recently been certified by the International Organisation of Standardisation for the safety standards in its vehicles (ISO 39001:2012). These standards are ensured by a number of measures, including in-car cameras and a rigorous tracking system for all taxis, Al Qamzi said.

There are 7,645 taxis in the capital, and they are operated by seven franchisee companies. Between them, the companies employ more than 10,000 drivers. TransAD regulates the sector.

Speaking about adherence to safety standards, Al Qamzi said that every driver who receives a complaint or is involved in an accident is thoroughly investigated.

“For every instance of speeding or reckless driving, the driver can be given up to 12 black points. And the moment they hit 24 black points, the driver is taken off the roads and has to undergo three months’ training,” he explained.

As reported by Gulf News last month, the authority is also currently overseeing the introduction of free WiFi across the fleet.

“The WiFi will start as soon as the meter starts running. After all, our aim is to provide convenient access to all our users and, today, internet access has become a requirement. So, from November 15 onwards, 50 airport taxis will begin providing WiFi access. Soon afterwards, other vehicles will follow suit,” he said.

Routers are currently being installed on taxis, and the safety of the WiFi system will be guaranteed by telecommunications provider etisalat.

Meanwhile, the authority hopes to further enhance its smartphone application, which allows commuters to hail a ride.

“Within the next two to three months, customers will be able to file complaints through the app, or report lost items. About 30 items are reported lost every day,” Al Qamzi said.

At present, 18 per cent of taxi trips in the capital are booked through the app, Abu Dhabi Taxi. In contrast, nearly 50 per cent of bookings are made through the TransAD call centre.