Taxi drivers exempt from booster seat law

Police and city bylaw enforcement officers don't typically look to see if small children are buckled up in a taxi.

Thunder Bay woman looks for answers about transporting children safely in taxis

There's been no easy answer for a Thunder Bay woman, who wonders who bears the legal responsibility for ensuring small children are buckled up in a taxi.

When Ann Larocque went to take her great-grandson to an appointment last week, she was told by the taxi dispatcher the company didn't have a booster seat.

She decided to take the taxi, but later began to wonder, "What would have happened if we were stopped by the police?"

Larocque said her inquiries to Thunder Bay Police and other cab companies didn't provide any definitive answers.

"What does that do for the general public? Do we all take chances? Not everybody drives," she said.

Clarification wanted

Police traffic sergeant Glenn Porter told CBC News cab drivers are exempt from the law that requires young children to be properly strapped in. However, the law doesn’t specify who is responsible. The same situation applies to school buses.

"When you think that the installation of these devices requires a certain amount of expertise and training, perhaps the legislators were thinking that's it's impractical to require that they have that responsibility," Porter said.

Porter said police typically don't look for proper child restraints in taxis, since the driver can't be held responsible.

But a collision could potentially change that, he said.

"If there was a collision, every little detail is examined very closely, and this would be one of the factors that would go under the microscope, so to speak," Porter explained.

City bylaw enforcement officers don't make a habit of checking for proper child restraints in taxis either, said Ron Bourret, city's manager of licencing and enforcement. Thunder Bay bylaws that apply to cab companies don't say anything about the matter — one way or the other.

Bourret did say the issue is one of many being examined by city officials and an international agency that's currently reviewing the city's taxi and shuttle regulations.

For Larocque, she’s hopeful answers will come sooner, rather than later.

"I'd like to see clarification, and then people know where they stand," she said. "If I am responsible, then I just have to find another means of transportation."