A TOUGH knowledge test which Derby cabbies have to pass to get a licence in the city has only a 10% pass rate – a figure which some drivers say back claims it’s too hard.
The exam has come under scrutiny after revelations that Derby Hackney carriage drivers were avoiding it by going to Gedling to get a licence as there has been no similar test there.
And that has infuriated drivers licensed in Derby, who point out those who go to Gedling are getting away with having less local knowledge.
And Derby City Council says there is a public safety issue as it has no powers to do safety checks on the vehicles and drivers licensed in Gedling. It also has no powers to investigate complaints and means Gedling Borough Council gets the licence fees.
Now Gedling has announced it will be introducing a knowledge test – even for those who already have a licence – which firms in Derby say will drive cabbies to try their luck with the city exam.
However, latest statistics show they could find it tough, with the council admitting the pass rate for each exam in 2013-14 was about 10%, with 200 drivers giving it a go.
The questions test knowledge of the local area, vehicle maintenance and licensing conditions.
Mark Keenan, manager of Derby-based Western Cars, says one reason for the low pass rate could be grasp of written English.
He said: “I wouldn’t have said it was too hard. It depends on how much time and effort people have put into revising.
“Also, there are about 1,000 taxi drivers that have passed the test. I’ve got 200. How did they do it?”
Muddasser Ahmed, manager of PJ Cars, in Derby, says the Gedling practice is perfectly legal and nothing to do with English.
He said: “These are people that speak and write perfectly good English and sometimes they try three or four times and fail.”
Gedling has decided that, from July, it will introduce its knowledge test for every driver with a licence in the borough, whether they are applying for a licence or already have one.
Mr Ahmed said he was calling on the city council to treat drivers caught up in the controversy as special cases – getting them to take a two-week course instead of the exam. But he said he was also encouraging drivers to swat up for the Derby exam.
He said: “All of those licensed in Gedling are completely stressed because they don’t know anything about the Nottingham area.
“These people spent £10,000 on insurance and cars only for this to happen.”
In Derby, drivers of both private hire and Hackney taxis must pass the knowledge test and pass a medical examination. Once they have done this, they must pass an NVQ Level 2 certificate in road passenger driving.
John Tomlinson, director of environmental and regulatory services at the city council, said of Mr Ahmed’s suggestion: “Anyone wanting to hold a licence in Derby will still be required to pass a knowledge test in Derby.”
Here are some examples of questions asked in the Derby knowledge test:
Q What is the road/street name where the following is located? The Council House
A Corporation Street, Derby
Q Describe the route you would take with a fare between the following locations? Derby Bus Station to Derbyshire County Cricket Ground
A Leaving bus station, turn left on to Morledge, take left hand lane on to Cockpitt and proceed on to St Alkmund’s Way taking left hand lane on to Darwin Place and into Eastgate. Take the left lane onto slip road to Pentagon Island. On roundabout, take second exit onto Nottingham Road and take first left into ground.
Q Please state what the private hire vehicle drivers’ licence condition state in relation to the following? Drivers age limit
A To hold a private hire drivers licence, the person shall have attained 21 years of age.
Q Describe how you would proceed to these locations from the city centre, stating the roads you would use? Kirk Hallam
A Leave Derby on A52 towards Nottingham. After approximately three miles, turn off the A52 at Spondon taking the slip road on to Lodge Lane. Follow the main road through Spondon village heading towards Ilkeston, passing through Sitwell Street, Moor Street and on to Dale Road. Follow Dale Road for approximately four miles, which leads directly into the centre of Kirk Hallam.
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