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Covid-19: Temporary Screens in Taxis Policy

Summary

1. The Council’s conditions of licence require any modifications to the vehicle to be approved by the licensing authority. If a driver/operator wants to fit a temporary screen they should follow the Approval Procedure below.

2. It is the responsibility of the driver/operator to ensure that the device installed is compliant with government and industry regulations, is fit for purpose and does not compromise public safety.

3. Screens need to be regularly cleaned and appropriately maintained.

4. The Council reserves the right to require the removal of any screens if concerns as to their safety, fitness for purpose or compliance with health and safety legislation exist.

Introduction

5. Due to the Coronavirus pandemic, we have recently received enquiries from drivers regarding the installation of protective screens in their vehicles between the front and rear seats.


6. Partitions or safety screens provide a physical barrier between drivers and passengers in the vehicle. They are commonly installed as a safety feature to protect the driver from physical attacks or theft.

There has been an increase in interest of the use of screens as a way of providing physical separation between drivers and passengers in order to reduce the transmission of Covid-19.

7. There is no evidence available that demonstrates that partitions in taxis or PHVs reduce the risk of transmission of Covid-19 infection. Partitions in taxis or PHVs do not provide a fully sealed compartment which completely separates the driver from the passenger.

Therefore, whilst it is possible that partitions may reduce the risk of transmission of infection, the risk would not be eliminated entirely.

8. The Licensing Team appreciates that anything which helps to protect drivers and passengers from the spread of coronavirus is to be welcomed, but it is important that the installation of any aftermarket equipment is safe and doesn’t introduce new and unintended safety hazards.

9. Following comprehensive safety testing, vehicles will have achieved European Whole Vehicle Type Approval and changing or adding to the interior of the vehicle can potentially alter the ‘type approval’ of the vehicle.

Additionally, badly fitted, inappropriately constructed units, or products made using unsafe materials, could have a catastrophic impact in the event of a vehicle being involved in a road traffic accident.

10. The Council is aware that there are companies advertising the installations ‘that have been fully risk assessed’, which do not conform to legal requirements. Drivers should also be aware that screen installation may also affect the vehicle’s ability to pass an MOT, such as where they restrict the movement of the front seats.

Drivers are advised to obtain independent confirmation from the vehicle manufacturer, MIRA (or comparable body) and their insurer before incurring the expense of installing a screen which may not be compliant and may be unsafe.

11. The Council’s conditions of licence state:
“Any alteration in the design of the vehicle to the machinery or the body shall be reported to the Council who may require the proprietor to submit the vehicle for further examination.”

12. For these reasons, prior to voluntarily installing any screening device in your vehicle you must apply for approval to install a temporary screen following the procedure below.

General requirements

13. The decision to install a safety screen is for the driver, proprietor and/or operator to make, after carrying out your own risk assessment.

Due to the wide and diverse variety of vehicles and different types of safety partition screens available, it is not possible to offer specific purchase or installation advice in respect of these devices, however the following minimum requirements need to be satisfied:

a. The device must be purpose-built to use as a safety screen within a vehicle and must be suitable for the specific make and model of vehicle.

b. Not wrap around the driver seat and create a partition between the two front seats, in addition to the rear cabin area.

c. The installation and / or design of the device must not adversely influence or interfere with the structural integrity or driver and passenger safety systems (including airbags) in the vehicle. In particular the installation must:

i. Not put passengers and/or the driver at any additional risk during a collision and/or when in use generally as a taxi or private hire vehicle.

ii. Not interfere with the safe operation of the vehicle and/or the vehicles safety features at any time.

iii. Not obscure or interfere with the view of the driver and/or passengers in any way. d. Screens must be professionally and securely fitted and maintained in accordance with the manufacturer’s specifications and recommendations

e. Devices should remain free of scratches, clouding or stickers which would impede the drivers or passengers’ visibility.

f. Screens should not impede the driver’s movement or communication with passengers.

g. Screens should not impede driver or passenger entry or egress to the vehicle or present a trip hazard.

14. If you have installed an approved safety screen in your vehicle you must ensure that you clean the screen after each passenger journey using normal household disinfectant.

15. The proprietor shall ensure that the safety screen is properly and regularly maintained and serviced in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions by a suitably qualified
person.

Written records of all maintenance and servicing shall be made and retained by the proprietor for a minimum of 12 months. Such written records shall be made available on demand by an authorised officer of the Council, or a Police officer.

Approval Procedure

16. If you wish to fit a protective screen you will need to apply to the Council at licensing@bridgend.gov.uk providing confirmation that:

a. The installation will be conducted in accordance with the requirements of this policy.

b. Your insurance will still be valid if you fit the protective screen.

c. The product to be installed is compliant with government and industry regulations, will not compromise the safety of the vehicle and is approved by a MIRA (or comparable body) for use in the UK (if applicable).

d. You agree to remove the protective screen in less than 21 days after the date the Welsh Government officially declares an end to the current social distancing restrictions relating to Covid-19.

17. Upon the Authority being satisfied that the proposed installation meets the criteria outlined above you will be permitted to install a safety screen in your vehicle.

18. Once the partition or screen is installed the vehicle owner must email the Licensing Section with the following:
a. Certification from the installer or other evidence to prove that the installation is:

i. Compliant with government and industry regulations, for example the Road Vehicle (Construction and Use) Regulations and relevant safety, UK and European Community (EC) legislation;

ii. Compliant with the relevant UN ECE/EU standard for an original equipment type approval test covering interior fittings.

Any screen installation that has been fixed to the vehicle in such a way that it may affect the vehicle’s structural integrity or the safe operation of the vehicle’s Supplementary Restraint System (airbags) should be approved by MIRA, Millbrook or other comparable independent product engineering, testing, consultancy and certification organisation.

b. Photograph(s) of the partition or screen installed in the vehicle.

c. A copy of the vehicle owner/operators email to the insurance company and the insurance company’s acknowledgment that the insurance cover remains valid.

19. The Council reserves the right to require additional testing/certification, or the screen to be removed if not satisfied that it is safe, fit for purpose and legally compliant.

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