Taxi drivers and coronavirus

Mercedes Interior

As providers of taxi insurance we share the concerns of many of our customers during these difficult times. So with this in mind how worried should taxi drivers be about the spread of coronavirus and is there anything that can be done to protect yourself while driving?

Everybody who frequently encounters other members of the public is likely to be more at risk of contracting contagious illnesses. And while the novel coronavirus CoVid-19 hasn’t collectively gripped the UK yet, all the talk is that it’s only a matter of time before it does.

Taxi drivers are often the first people travellers see after walking through the doors of an airport or stepping out of a train station. It’s perhaps most alarming that the first reported death as a result of coronavirus in Thailand was that of a taxi driver, with reported cases of tourists infecting both taxi and bus drivers.

Is it possible to avoid the risk of contracting illness when you’re dealing with members of the public day in, day out?

Will the self-employed suffer the most?

You never know who you are picking up when you take a fare.

As coronavirus spreads, it could be passed from person to person anytime, anywhere in the UK. No longer will it be just drivers on airport runs who are prone to infection. You’ll need to protect yourself wherever you’re working.

Can you do anything about it?

The government have been advising ‘self-isolation’. This seems sensible, but not so much for taxi drivers, as many of you are self-employed. Even though the government are rushing through legislation to allow statutory sick pay from day 1 for employees, that won’t help you to keep income coming in if you’re self-employed and fall ill.

Responsible drivers who fall ill will want to stay away from other people – but as things stand, you will be out of pocket until you return to work.

Good hygiene – and not touching your face

Wearing a face mask might seem extreme, and it won’t necessarily help healthy people to avoid illness. So, what can you do to protect yourself from passengers who may be carrying the virus – and to protect them picking up illnesses from you?

  1. Avoid direct contact with other people and their belongings. Not the easiest thing to do when you’re ferrying people around. However, try to position passengers as far away from direct contact as possible during your journey. If you must handle bags or goods, use a tissue when picking up handles, and make sure you wipe your hands with a clean wipe or tissue afterwards.
  2. Wash your hands. The most widely promoted thing to do to avoid the virus spreading is to thoroughly wash your hands, for at least 20 seconds, on a frequent basis. However, when you’re in a cab all day, this isn’t so easy to do – and you’ll be handling money, too… If possible, carry antibacterial gel and wipes in your taxi. Use them before and after handling change. Dispose of wipes carefully whenever possible, in-between journeys.
  1. Have a supply of tissues in your cab. They are useful for you and your passengers, to catch coughs and sneezes.
  2. Sneeze into your elbow – not your hands. It’s easier to spread the virus touching your own face and other people with your hands.
  3. Don’t touch your face. When you’re driving a taxi, this is easier to practice than it might be for office workers, for example. You’ll have your hands on the wheel and be concentrating on the road, so you’re less likely to be engaged in compulsive, unnecessary touching of your face. However, if you need to adjust your glasses or contain an itch, grab a tissue before doing so.
  4. Be friendly but forceful with passengers. If a passenger shows signs of illness, make sure they follow basic hygiene rules in place for everybody. Hand them tissues and wipes if needed. Ask them to contain coughs and sneezes. The last thing you want is to become ill and possibly spread illness to other passengers – so make sure they know that.

These are all straightforward, sensible precautions. Think about them and don’t forget to do them where possible.

Sadly, for workers in the public space, there’s no magic bullet to stop illness from spreading. We can only hope that the virus is contained as much as possible, and a vaccine is found sooner rather than later. Until then, taxi drivers will need to take the usual precautions to avoid becoming ill and missing out on valuable income.