Using a handheld mobile phone while driving is against the law in Hong Kong. But it has not stopped local taxi drivers from turning their cars into phone booths.
One day I was taking a taxi to school when a terrifying incident happened. Suddenly, the driver braked and the car stopped just a few centimetres away from an old woman who was crossing the road. Even the pedestrians were shocked.
The driver was talking on his handheld mobile phone and didn't realise the red light was on.
I know this type of thing happens sometimes, but this was my first "real-life" experience.
The government should raise awareness about the dangers of using handheld mobile phones while driving.
Otherwise, innocent lives could be lost because of reckless driving.
Priscilla Shum, The Chinese Foundation Secondary School
From the Editor
Thank you for your letter, Priscilla. This kind of irresponsible behaviour is very common among taxi drivers, and there should be a way to stop it.
Not many of our readers take taxis, so for those who are not up to speed on this issue, here's what happens: Taxi drivers in Hong Kong don't make a lot of money even though they work up to 12 hours a day, seven days a week. Taxi licences are hugely expensive - around HK$7 million - so whoever owns one has to try to earn that money back from the cab.
The drivers hire the cab from the licence owner, for a fee. Then they have to be able to make up the fee, and earn some extra money for themselves. Some drivers work in groups, and if you phone them and wait for their cabs, they offer you a discount. One driver can belong to many of these groups, or be running a group. This involves a lot of phone conversations, note-taking, phone juggling and other dangerous behaviour. And yes, they seem to treat their drivers' seat as an office.
I've seen some drivers with so many gadgets attached to their windscreen and dashboard that I'm surprised they can see the road properly. The other side of the issue is that many passengers are passive. They rarely complain about reckless driving. In a taxi, there's a sticker that tells passengers their rights and where to complain. We need to use it more often.
Susan Ramsay, Editor