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PostPosted: Fri Sep 30, 2005 6:58 pm 
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Joined: Wed Sep 03, 2003 7:30 pm
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Location: 1066 Country
I know this has been alluded to elsewhere on TDO, but I think it deserves it's own thread, and maybe admin can make it a sticky so everyone can read about certain people. :lol: :lol:

Taxi drivers fear risk to health from television screens in cab

Mini-tv screens are now a familiar sight in the back of many city cabs after the council gave the go-ahead for their installation. They were installed to entertain people on lengthy journeys and to create a new advertising income stream for cab drivers. But now some drivers fear their health may be at risk after it was revealed the Government is compiling a report into the possible effects of using the technology.

The cabbies have called on Edinburgh council and Cabtivate, which provides the screens, to reassure them about their safety after learning of the study by the Health Protection Agency. The investigation will look into electro-sensitivity, a condition brought on by a heightened reaction to electrical energy. It will also report on alleged side-effects of the technology such as nausea, headaches and muscle pains.

The screens use the same satellite technology to transmit and download video and audio clips as mobile phones. In cabs that carry the screens, drivers say the rear of their heads can be exposed for anything up to 12 hours - although the company claims the signals are only activated for short periods each day.

Taxi driver Keith Bell said: "CABforce first raised the safety of these screens two years ago. We wanted to know if it had been looked at and if so who had deemed it safe."

Both the council and Cabtivate, which is based in Forth Street and is the brainchild of Mark Greenhalgh, below, assured drivers the equipment was safe. But the HPA report investigation has reignited cabbies' fears. Mr Bell said: "The council also has a responsibility to cabbies. "No cabbies have said the screens have had an adverse effect on their health that I'm aware of, but we must be sure."

The Edinburgh taxi trade newsletter The Fair View has also raised the issue. In its October edition, it says: "Concerned about the safety implications of the Cabtivate system, with its constantly-operating screen located only two inches from the driver's head, coupled with the potential for distracting other road users, we wrote to Cab Inspector Andy Watt to enquire what regular safety checks were conducted on the system. "He replied: 'I have no knowledge of any ongoing tests relative to the Cabtivate system.'"

James Mills, 43, of Vandeleur Grove, Portobello, was one of the first drivers to have one of the screens put in his cab. He said: "The question of how safe it is was one of our queries when it was installed over a year ago. We were told there was no risk associated to it being there. "I've never had headaches from using it or anything like that."

A council spokeswoman said: "We have not as a licensing authority been presented with evidence of risks from 'electro-sensitivity'. "If any evidence of this comes to hand, we will look into it as a matter of urgency." A spokesman for Cabtivate said: "The system has been approved by local authorities up and down the country and is 100 per cent safe and licensed for use in taxis."


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