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Fatal Accident Inquiry into the circumstances of the death of Mr Gavin McCabe [2010] FAI 47


In terms of section 6(1)(a) of the Fatal Accidents and Sudden Deaths Inquiry (Scotland) Act 1976, the Sheriff found that Mr Gavin McCabe died at 17.20 hours on 21 March 2009, at Ninewells Hospital, Dundee, as a consequence of injuries sustained when a motor vehicle driven by him was involved in a collision. The vehicle was driven by the deceased in the course of his employment as a taxi driver. The Sheriff found that Mr McCabe's death was the result of multiple injuries sustained by him as a result of the collision, including blunt force trauma when he was ejected from the vehicle and hit the road.

Under section 6(1)(c), the Sheriff noted that Mr McCabe was not wearing a seatbelt at the time of the collision. The Sheriff ruled that a reasonable precaution would have been for Mr McCabe to have been wearing a seatbelt, and had he been wearing such a seatbelt, his death may have been avoided.

The Sheriff noted that taxi drivers are presently exempt from wearing seatbelts under regulation 6(1)(g) of the Motor Vehicles (Wearing of Seatbelts) Regulations 1993 (SI 1993/176). This exception was originally lobbied for by the industry, in order to protect taxi drivers from escaping robbery or attack when transporting strangers.

Agreeing with the submissions made by the Crown, the Sheriff agreed that the appropriate government authority should review these Regulations, in order to determine whether the rationale underlying the exception was still sound. The Sheriff noted that the exception was particularly misguided nowadays, considering that the majority of taxi cabs now have isolated driver booths, protecting them from any risk of robbery or assault. Moreover, the Sheriff saw no need for the exception when the taxi is not transporting a passenger.

The Sheriff noted that the risks to the health and safety of both drivers and passengers under the current Regulations were wholly disproportionate to the perceived risks to drivers of physical abuse. The Sheriff concluded that the Scottish Ministers and the Secretary of State for Transport should urgently review the current regulations, with a view to rescinding the exception, either entirely, or at least to amend it to no longer apply to Hackney cabs etc, or to private hire cabs when they have no passengers.