Setting the limits

Cab regulations

Setting the limits

With a number of new apps coming out each day, everything from essential home services to travel options is at one’s fingertips now. Rushing to take a cab to get away from traffic snarls and reach a destination safely is quite common these days. During such times, the new guidelines that are being introduced by Uber come as a big surprise and are rather ambiguous.

From cosying up in the cab with one’s partner to vomiting inside due to intoxication, the reasons are varied for one to not be able to use the service later on. The guidelines state that the passenger is not allowed to ‘make unwanted contact with the driver or a fellow passenger after the trip is over’, indulge in ‘touching or flirting with other people in the car’ or ‘ask overly personal questions’. The surprising part is the guideline about ‘vomiting (in the cab) due to alcohol consumption’.

Cab users in the city wonder as to how these guidelines will be put into practice. Subhash Nairy, a businessman, asks, “How will one know if the passenger is vomiting due to excessive alcohol intake or because he or she is sick? Not everyone will be able to identify this,” he says. Considering the safety factor, he says that the cab user may be left in a difficult situation in case they are asked to get off the cab immediately and left at an unsafe location. “Cabs are an essential part of one’s daily life now. A proper judgement is required to come to conclusions and take further action,” he adds.

Women passengers are often advised to keep a safe distance from the driver and not give out information about themselves.

Sakshi Sinha, an IT professional, questions, “However, if one does strike up a conversation, how will the authority know whether or not it was initiated by the driver and the nature of it? Will there be CCTV cameras monitoring each and every action inside cabs now?” She adds, “About making contact with co-passengers, what if I am travelling with my brother and he hugs me? How will the driver identify the relationship and on what basis will the cases be registered?”

With cab travellers sharing experiences of being dropped off at wrong locations or not being picked up at all, there is no one to hear the passenger’s plight, rues Neelam Agarwal, group financial controller with an MNC. “Will there be CCTV footages and audio recordings to verify the incidents that could have taken place inside the cab? What will happen to someone if they are intoxicated and stranded on the road?” she asks. Neelam points out that guidelines like these should come with a certain responsibility borne by the company and also taking into account the passenger’s point of view.

There are others who agree that respect comes both ways and it is a company’s decision to put into practice such guidelines.

 “Most people indulge in a few drinks during the weekends. And incidents of vomiting inside the cab cannot be foreseen; if someone feels sick, they could call a friend or someone they know,” says Manjula, head of customer relations at a company. She adds that establishing contact with the driver or a co-passenger is uncalled for as this is encroaching upon someone’s private space.

So what will happen if other cab services follow suit? Gautami Shankar, a teacher, says, “If such a situation arises, then a proper system and a body which can govern these services will need to be established.”

On the other hand, there are some who worry about cases of drunken driving rising, after such a measure is put in place.

Manish Rungta, assistant chief traffic warden (Ulsoor), says that he doesn’t feel that people will take to risky options like using their own vehicles when intoxicated, just because a cab service brings in certain rules.

“Certain etiquette should be followed in most public transport services according to the Motor Vehicles Act. Bengalureans are increasingly becoming aware of the dangers of drinking and driving. They will make arrangements accordingly,” he adds.

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