South Scotland

Dumfries and Galloway tuk-tuk taxi bid sparks police safety fears

Tuk tuk Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The vehicles are particularly popular in countries with tropical climates

Police have raised a string of safety concerns about a possible tuk-tuk taxi service in southern Scotland.

An inquiry has been received by Dumfries and Galloway Council relating to the application for a licence for the three-wheeled vehicles.

However, police said they had concerns about them tipping over at roundabouts or on tight turns.

They also said the lack of doors meant any side-on impact would result in "injury or worse" to any occupants.

A report to the local authority's licensing panel asks it to consider whether it is satisfied, in principle, that a tuk-tuk is suitable for use as a taxi or private hire.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The council is being asked to look at whether it would consider licensing the three-wheelers

The tuk-tuk is a motorised version of the traditional pulled rickshaw or cycle rickshaw.

They are popular in countries with tropical climates with the biggest manufacturer based in India.

A request has now been received which could pave the way for their use in the cooler climes of south-west Scotland.

It has prompted concerns from both council officers and police.

Transport manager Gordon Bryce said he did not believe the vehicle was suited to the region's roads, as its top speed of about 40mph would make it an obstruction on trunk and B roads, increasing the risk of accidents.

He said the lack of safety devices like air bags was his "greatest concern".

He suggested it would be more appropriate to look at using electric tuk-tuk vehicles in a major town on agreed routes and within agreed times.

Image copyright Billy McCrorie
Image caption Police said they had concerns about tuk-tuks tipping over if they travelled at speed

Sgt Jonny Edgar, from Police Scotland, said negotiating the likes of the large A75/A76 roundabout at any speed would make a three-wheeled vehicle liable to tip over.

He also highlighted the small size of the vehicle as a concern.

"Coupled with no airbags or side impact protection, I fear death or serious injury is a very real possibility," he said.

He added the lack of doors on the vehicle was also of particular concern if it was used by "intoxicated patrons or children".

"There are reports of intoxicated passengers falling from the rear of a tuk-tuk to their death," he said.

"Although seatbelts would be present it would be naive to believe that all passengers wear them."

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