Operating a successful taxi business is becoming much harder for some operators.
The credit crunch has hit hard for many as the public are tightening their money belts every way they can, including the use of taxis. However, the current and on-going drink driving campaigns by the government is having a positive effect on increasing the number of taxis the public are using at night.
Taxi drivers realise that some of the most profitable shifts are late at night. Although this may be the most lucrative period the increase in potential abuse and violence also increases.
Licensed hackney carriages are the only type of vehicle that can legally be hailed and stopped by a member of the public. All other vehicles which are for hire for public use must be pre-booked prior to collecting a fare paying passenger or passengers.
It is also a requirement that a booking log is kept by the minicab operators. At the time of booking the name and collection address has to be recorded, providing private hire vehicles with some form of identity of the person using their services which may help should any violence, abuse or damaged be caused to the driver or vehicle.
Licensed hackney carriages do not have to keep logs and are therefore more at risk.
There are a number of things that taxi drivers can do to try and reduce risk.
1. Keeping contact via the onboard radio system. Calling the office frequently or contacting them as soon as any trouble begins to brew may help protect the drivers.
2. Fitting a convex mirror which provides a clear view of whats occurring in the back of the vehicle to enable the driver to pre-empt any dangerous situations.
3. Drivers of saloon cars can install a shield made from material which will help provide protection from a knife or hard bodily impact, such as a punch.
4. Many local councils are helping reduce the risks of abuse and violence for taxi drivers by installing video cameras in licensed taxi and minicabs. Taxi insurance companies welcome all measures to reduce risks and although they may not offer a specific discount for vehicles which are fitted with video equipment any recoded footage of violence and damage can be used to help validate a claim.
5. Taxis drivers do have the right to refuse a passenger if they believe they pose a high risk.
6. Those who use a saloon car should consider restricting front seat passengers.
7. Keep the window only open enough to be able to speak to people not low enough for people to reach in and assault or grab you.
8. Returning to the office and depositing money on a frequent basis can also help reduce the risk of loss.
Many taxi insurance companies will also provide cover for loss of money should it be stolen. There are restrictions as to the amount of money they will provide cover for, so it is well worth contacting them to see whether they include or offer this within the insurance cover.