DASHBOARD cameras in taxis will slash bogus insurance claims and help protect the public, experts have claimed days before the city moves to rubberstamp the devices.
The forward-facing cameras – which record the road ahead – are said to help deter staged accidents and false whiplash claims as well as other driving offences.
If given the green light, cameras will be fitted to a swathe of black cabs and private hire vehicles within months following calls from cabbies to allow the CCTV in their vehicles.
Taxi drivers often pay steep insurance premiums compared to the average motorist because they spend much longer in their vehicle and cover huge distances.
They also often have multiple drivers and are more likely to be involved in an accident.
Some insurance companies are offering discounts of up to 30 per cent on premiums – which can cost more than £3000-a-year – to taxis with CCTV set up which costs an average £250-300 for the device plus the proposed £50 council compliance check.
Raymond Davidson, of Edinburgh Taxi Association, said he believed it would eventually “become the norm” to install forward-facing cameras.
“There was a bit of scepticism about the idea when it was first mooted but I think it’s a good idea and a lot of drivers do as well,” he said.
“I think it will do exactly what it says on the tin and show what has happened if there’s an incident.
“It will mean if it’s just a taxi-driver’s word against another driver, the driver can’t go home and claim their friend was there as well [to corroborate their claim].
“That has been a big problem for a long time. Anything that can help in the fight against bogus claims and save drivers’ money, I’m all for it.”
It is hoped the cameras, which drivers would have to pay for and install themselves, could also protect them against fare dodgers and violent incidents.
A former senior police officer, who declined to be identified, said the devices could help officers solve serious crimes by acting as the “eyes and eyes” of the city.
“Harvesting the information could be a problem because of the bulk of it, but it’s very positive and I can’t see any downsides to it,” he said.
The video evidence would enable a claim to be either defended or settled more quickly, getting the driver back on the road again as well as reducing their premium.
A consultation with taxi drivers found most approved of the concept but there was criticism of the £50 administration fee which would be charged in addition to the £277 cab test fee.
Neil Greig, of the Institute for Advanced Motoring, said there was “very little evidence” to show dashboard cams make “much difference” to accidents.
Councillor Gavin Barrie, convener of the regulatory committee, said: “The council will be consulting with both the trade and the public over the summer with a final report due back to Committee in November which will allow the members to consider all views.