Whether you’ve been driving a taxi for years or have just started out, your personal safety is important.
Advice on staying safe is often aimed at taxi passengers – but as a driver, there are risks of working alone that you may be aware of or may not have thought much about.
Here are some simple tips to help you stay safe and protect yourself and your passengers in the event of incidents, accidents or disputes.
- Protect against insurance claims: install CCTV and telematics in your cab
Modern telematics systems are more than just a ‘black box’ to record the speed of your vehicle. They can be linked to CCTV cameras that record footage of accidents and incidents, to give insurers the full picture.
In the unfortunate event of a road traffic accident, information can be provided direct to insurers, with footage, speed of your vehicle, the GPS location of the accident and the G-force of the impact all recorded.
This is not just useful in the event of a collision with another vehicle. There have been recorded incidents of members of the public throwing themselves onto the bonnet of a stationary or slow-moving taxi, then claiming they have been hit at force and sustained injuries. With CCTV and telematics, such claims can be disproved easily.
CCTV will also record any threats of violence towards you as a driver and show how you have conducted yourself in dealing with passengers if any claims of misconduct are made against you. The very presence of CCTV can be a deterrent to criminals in your cab.
- Work hours that suit you
If you are concerned about drunken behaviour, for example, then it stands to reason that you should avoid working late at night when it’s more likely you will encounter passengers who will be under the influence of alcohol. Not all passengers will cause you problems, and it can earn you more money working later at night, but if safety is your priority then it may not be worth the hassle.
Whatever hours you work, make sure you are not too tired as you always need to be alert and aware of both road conditions and your passengers.
- Only carry as much cash as you need
Theft is often opportunistic. If a passenger sees you are carrying a large amount of cash, they could threaten you and steal it.
Bank cash or return it to your base during your shift if appropriate, and keep cash hidden from view in a box.
- Agree the fare upfront for longer journeys
Passengers can become agitated if the fare for their journey ends up being more than they expected. Set the expectation upfront and ensure your passenger is happy to pay before accepting their fare.
Equally, if you are not happy accepting a fare, trust your instinct. You are within your rights to refuse a customer if you feel threatened in any way.
- Stay calm if threatened and don’t fight back if attacked
If you are threatened, stay calm, and try not to fight back if attacked – defend yourself with reasonable force if needed, but do not provoke the situation.
Where possible, stay in populated and well-lit areas to avoid the chances of being ambushed. Don’t follow non-payers out of your vehicle, as there have been recorded incidents of criminals stealing taxis when this happens.
Sounding your horn or flashing your lights can be appropriate in some circumstances to draw attention to an incident. Call the police as soon as you can.
Explore more information on staying safe in this Department for Transport safety guidance document.
Stay safe with our taxi insurance policies
Insurance offers a safety net for drivers when involved in incidents and accidents, with both cover for your vehicle and public liability insurance to protect against claims from members of the public.
Contact us on 01625 400201 with any queries on your taxi insurance cover or to get a quote from our friendly team.