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Safety Tips for Taxi and Private Hire Drivers

As a licensed driver you are working alone with strangers, often in isolated places and many of you carry cash. Taking customers from ranks with no knowledge of their home address or telephone number means that, if they cause trouble, you are especially vulnerable. If you work at night you are likely to have to deal with people who have drunk too much alcohol. All this means you may be at risk of violence.


Quick Tips

  • Always trust your instincts. Refuse a fare if you have any doubts about your safety.
  • Minimise the amount of cash you carry: consider using contactless payments where you can.
  • Consider installing CCTV.
  • Use verbal skills and body language to de-escalate any confrontational situations if you can. Try to stay professional and calm, don’t raise your voice, keep your hands visible and open, make eye contact and maintain it.  
  • Call the Police immediately on 999 if you feel in imminent danger.
  • Report all non-urgent incidents to the Police on 101.


Adjustments to your vehicle

  • CCTV cameras have been shown to lead to reduced threats and violence against drivers. Signs in the vehicle can highlight the presence of CCTV to passengers. They can be useful when there is a dispute with a passenger – it is not just your word against theirs. You can only have visual recordings running during a journey (with the exception of school contracts) but you can have a panic button on your CCTV so that you can switch on audio if you are in a situation where you are at risk or are being verbally abused. You must let us know if you have CCTV installed and your must register with the ICO as a data controller.
  • Consider installing rigid plastic dividers in the vehicle that separate the driver from passengers. Please see our Taxi and Private Hire Vehicle Policy for our criteria.
  • Fitting an additional convex rear view mirror that gives you a full view of the rear of your car will help you to see what a passenger directly behind you is doing.


Cash Management

  • Consider using an app or card machine to take payment as this reduces the amount of cash you have in your vehicle. 
  • If you can, drop off cash during your shift so that you carry as little in your car as you can.
  • Always keep your cash hidden from view in a secure box and try to hide the cash in several places around the vehicle until you can deposit it securely.
  • Consider requesting pre-payment to stay in control.
  • Never say to a customer that you have had a busy shift or that business is good. This will alert them to the fact that you might have a lot of cash in the vehicle.


What to carry with you

  • A spare vehicle key, in case an assailant throws your keys away.
  • A mobile phone, with spare charging cables and a cigarette-lighter USB charger.
  • A torch with batteries.
  • A note pad and pen to record incidents.
  •  An emergency card with your name, date of birth, blood group, allergies and a contact number in case of emergencies.
  • A personal safety alarm.


Things not to carry with you:

  • Do not carry anything in the passenger compartment of the vehicle that could be used as a weapon, such as wheel jacks or baseball bats. Not only could these be used against you by an offender but they could be illegal if the police believe you are carrying them to use as a weapon.
  • If you must carry any tools, ensure that they are securely stored in the boot.


Dealing with passengers

  • Make sure you are not tired - you need to be alert at all times.
  • When you are arriving to collect a fare, follow these steps:
  1. Ensure your vehicle doors are locked whilst driving around.
  2. Park safely near the passenger.
  3. Only open the windows enough to speak to people without them being able to reach in.
  4. Identify the passenger’s destination (if you are a private hire driver, confirm that this is the correctly booked passenger).
  5. Unlock your doors if you are ready to accept a fare
  • Make eye contact with the passenger when they get into your vehicle. This helps you establish a relationship with them and also lets them know that you could identify them afterwards if need be.
  • Be ready to explain the fare structure to a passenger and have a copy of the fare card so they can see it.
  • If you are going a long way round (for example, in order to avoid roadworks) explain the route you plan to take. This should help avoid a dispute over the fare
  • Communication with the passenger is important. Be polite and pleasant.
  • Customers that leave your vehicle without paying are committing a criminal offence. Report incidents to the police and be prepared to make a statement  Do not try to run after a passenger who owes you their fare. Your safety is more important than the money.
  • Only let passengers sit in the front if you are comfortable with this.
  • Record fully the passenger's name, pick-up address, destination address and telephone number when taking a booking.


What to do if you feel threatened

  • Try to stay calm. Take slow, deep breaths - this may help to lessen your anxiety..
  • If you can, drive to a brightly-lit, busy place, as these are often covered by CCTV


If you are attacked

  • Gather as much information about the person as you can (for example their clothes and accent).
  • Do not try to fight back - it is likely to make the situation worse for you. 
  • Use your horn and lights to attract attention.
  • Call 999 for help.
  • Contact your operator or radio circuit if you have one.


After an incident

  • Write down everything about the incident including a description of the passenger and what they said and did.
  • If you did not call them at the time, report all violent incidents to the police.
  • Be prepared to make a witness statement. It may take time, but it may prevent an attack in the future - for you and other drivers.


More Advice

Here is a link to the Government guidance to taxi and private hire drivers on staying safe

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