Many road accidents involving call taxis were being ‘settled’ between the parties and thus did not come to the notice of police.

A private call taxi collided head on with another private vehicle on New Natham Road on Monday night.

The call taxi driver sustained multiple injuries in the collision. The police attributed the accident to rash and negligent driving. The front portion of the taxi suffered heavy damage.

A traffic police officer, who inspected the spot, was quoted as saying that many road accidents involving call taxis were being ‘settled’ between the parties and thus did not come to the notice of police.

However, the death of a passenger travelling in a call taxi, which was involved in an accident, while proceeding towards Manamadurai last month, is being viewed seriously as the driver did not carry a valid badge. The fatal accident is now under investigation, the officer said. It is high time to intensify checks, he added

Transport Department officials said there are about five to seven call taxi agencies operating in Madurai under the names of Fast Track, Friends Track, Best Track, Supreme Call Taxi, Bharati and Madurai Super Track. Among them, the Fast Track runs 500 taxis, while Friends Track operated around 225 taxis and the rest operated close to 150 vehicles.

Call taxi drivers told “The Hindu” that agencies operated round the clock, which compelled them to hire drivers on 24-hour service. For a city like Madurai, it would be sufficient to operate from 4 a.m. to 11 p.m. In the absence of any IT companies or big manufacturing facilities, night driving was rare.

Trips out of the city usually occurred in the morning. Drivers suggested that agencies should consider suspending night service. Many taxi operators made them work for 48 hours without a break, the drivers pointed out.

Accidents occurred at non-peak hours and on stretches such as New Natham Road, Ring Road, TPK Road and others, they noted. A call taxi company executive, requesting anonymity, said that drivers had been receiving counselling in batches of 10 to 15 periodically, which dealt with good behaviour towards the public and customers, the need for speed control, use of seat belts and so on. The executive claimed that drivers behaving badly or displaying indiscipline were cautioned or fired. The company official claimed that there were fewer problems with drivers who owned the taxis. The problem was with those drivers who were engaged by owners to drive the taxis.

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