Video cameras in taxis are helping to cut time and costs associated with filing an insurance claim in a number countries including Australia, the United States and Singapore but the trend is unlikely to take off in the UAE despite the benefits.
In Singapore, taxi drivers are increasingly installing video cameras in their taxis for insurance purposes. There are 26,000 taxis in Singapore and while the number of those with cameras installed is still low, three of Singapore’s seven cab companies are actively rolling out cameras in their taxis, Comfort, CityCab and TransCab.
The trend did not begin as a company-wide initiative, instead individual drivers began to install the devices out of fear of accidents and to use the footage in insurance claims.
“I was in an accident a few years ago and was hit on my side by a Porsche. It was very long and difficult to prove whose fault it was,” said Rahim Humza Ibrahim, a taxi driver in Singapore. “So I installed the camera a few months ago, I had another accident and it was easy this time, I gave the tape to prove it was not my fault.”
“It records video and sound and I got it just in case, if I have an accident. It has a memory card inside and I just delete it every night after work,” said Charlie Li, another taxi driver in Singapore.
The devices are cheap, typically costing US$20, and most of them are imported from China and are mounted just below the rear-view mirror, recording what the driver sees. While it records conversations in the taxi, passengers are not in the footage.
Similar schemes are under way in a number of US states, Australia and New Zealand but as yet the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) in Dubai has no plans to launch such an initiative, although some taxi drivers say they would be in favour of it.
“First of all the number of taxi traffic accidents in the UAE is not high. Using the cameras in taxis can add a lot of advantages to the taxis in operation such as customer satisfaction and security. At this moment there is no plan to use cameras in taxis due to some regulations and cultural requirements,” said Yousif Mohammed Al Ali, the acting chief executive of the RTA.
Benjamin Smith, an associate at Clyde & Co, added: “There is legislation in Dubai which relates specifically to the installation and operation of CCTV cameras. In certain circumstances, only authorised service providers can install CCTV cameras. A taxi driver may not have the authority to install a CCTV camera in his car and disclose the images it records to third parties.
“In the UAE, it is a criminal offence to disclose confidential information about people that is obtained in the course of work without their consent.”