No matter if you are male or female, young or old, it’s important you keep yourself safe when getting a taxi. Getting a taxi is generally considered safer than walking home alone, or getting public transport, however there are still risks. We will go through how to get a taxi safely and how to make a complaint about a taxi driver if needed.
Where possible…pre book
Pre booking a taxi, or using a private hire car is the safest way to use taxi services. This is because there will be an official log of your journey and pre booked taxis are often tracked.
There are two different types of vehicles, a Private Hire car and a Taxi.
Private Hire- A car that must be booked through a licensed operator
Taxi– A car that can be hired immediately from a taxi rank or hailed down on the street
Make sure your taxi, or private hire is legal
Using an illegal taxi is one of the most dangerous things you can do. These cars are unlicensed, which means they have not been subject to the rigours checks that are needed to gain a licence. The drivers also haven’t had any vetting, such as a DBS or medical check. An illegal taxi is classed as a vehicle with no taxi licence that charges over 45p per mile. There is a trend for people to advertise their lift services on Facebook, this is also illegal and unsafe.
How to make sure a taxi is licensed
- A licensed vehicle will normally display a licence plate on the front or rear of the vehicle. The plate will include the licensing authority, licence number & the vehicle registration number
- A licensed driver will wear or have on display an identity badge. The badge will include the licensing authority and driver licence number.
- If you can’t see either ASK.
Quick safety tips
- Make sure that you’ve got enough money aside for your journey home.
- Make sure it’s the taxi you booked – before getting into a car that appears to be yours ask the driver the name and destination he has been given to confirm that he is your driver.
- If a car stops without you flagging it down and claims to be a taxi – DON’T GET IN– taxi drivers are only supposed to stop when hailed.
- Always sit in the back, directly behind the driver if possible, don’t sit in the front next to the driver – don’t worry about appearing unfriendly
- If chatting to the driver, keep to general topics and don’t give them any personal information about yourself.
How to make a complaint About a Taxi
You can take all the safety precautions you like, but there can be some things out of your control. If you are a victim of a crime while a passenger of a taxi then you must call the police. However, if you feel that something happened in the taxi that you are unhappy with that might not be a crime; you are still well within your rights to complain.
There are two options for you when it comes to complaining. If you are using a private hire car then most complaints can be taken up with the operator, it’s required that a licensed operator has a complaints policy and this should be followed. Your complaints can be escalated to the council if you are not satisfied with the result. If you are using a taxi that you have flagged down and they don’t have an operator then all complaints will need to be made directly to the council.
We spoke to a licensing officer within a local authority and they gave us the following guidelines;
Things that warrant a complaint to the council:
- A driving concern – if the driver was acting or driving erratically or in a way that you feel is unsafe, it’s important to raise this with the local authority.
- Lewd behaviour – if you feel the taxi driver acted in an inappropriate manor, such as talking in a sexual way or making suggestive comments. This would be an urgent incident to bring up with a licensing officer.
- Mechanical concerns – if you feel the car is in a state of disrepair or has a major fault, then this could pose a danger to other road users and passengers.
- Overcharged (metered taxi) – if the taxi you take has a meter installed and you were overcharged then you are within your rights to report this.
- Not satisfied with the response from operator – if you have raised your concern with an operator and you feel it has not been investigated fully or you have not been taken seriously, then you can escalate it to the council.
Things that warrant a complaint to the operator;
- Running late – if the taxi you booked was late, then you can inform the operator. This might be annoying, but doesn’t warrant a call to the council.
- Not helping with luggage – another issue that doesn’t go against licensing policy and can be taken up with the operator.
- Untidy taxi- if you feel the car you had was particularly untidy or smelled bad, it’s worth mentioning to the operator.
- Being over charged (non-metered taxi) – if you have agreed a price in advanced that isn’t stuck to, this needs to be discussed with the operator.
While in the taxi if you want to make a complaint then you should; make a note of the drivers badge number, make a note of the vehicle plate number, note the time, date and location. This will help the licensing officer to identify the operator and driver, so they can be investigated.
Duty of Care
It is a taxi drivers right to ask you to leave their vehicle for any reason. However, they do have a duty of care to not leave you unsafe. They are required to direct you to another form of transport or a safe place to shelter. If you feel that you were left in an unsafe situation by a driver then you can complain to the operator or local authority. It’s important to note that a taxi driver cannot refuse your custom on the basis of journey length.
Overall, getting a taxi is a safe way to get around. But it’s important to know how to keep yourself safe when using them. For more information on how to keep yourself safe when walking alone then read our blog Staying Safe While Walking Alone.