With an increase in incidents involving taxi and private-hire drivers, the need for proper safety measures is more evident than ever before. Here are some practical strategies, collected from various resources, that can help drivers in the taxi and private-hire industry stay safe while performing their duties.
Securing Money and Possessions
Taxi and private-hire drivers should carry minimal cash to discourage thieves and always avoid leaving money in easy-to-reach places like the central console. This is less of an issue since the emergence of app based bookings. However personal items, especially mobile phones, should also be safely stored and out of passengers’ reach. It is also advisable to note the IMEI number of your phone, which can be found by dialling *#06#. In a scenario where you are threatened, prioritise personal safety over property and call 999 as soon as you can.
Safeguarding During Transit
As a driver, you might be requested to stop abruptly or drive into quieter areas. Try to do so in well-lit locations with a significant number of people. Be wary of distraction techniques such as requests to adjust seats or access the boot, which may be ploys to make you leave your vehicle. If exiting the vehicle is necessary, turn off the ignition and take the keys with you.
Utilising Safety Resources
Consider using technology to create additional layers of safety. Lone working devices can connect you to a monitoring station in case of emergencies. Installing CCTV system in your vehicle, that’s approved by your licensing authority, can also deter potential offenders and provide evidence if an incident occurs. Vehicle tracking devices can help locate your vehicle if stolen. Resources can be found via the websites Secured by Design, TfL, and Thatcham. The Metropolitan Police’s webpage on ‘protecting yourself from crime’ is also worth a visit for more advice.
Reporting suspected crimes is crucial. In emergencies, call 999 immediately. If you can’t call 999 during the incident, report it as soon as possible by calling 101 or online at the Metropolitan Police’s website. As private hire operators are required to record booking details, these can aid police investigations.
Your conduct with passengers is essential. Always be polite and non-judgmental. If you feel a passenger’s behaviour or attitude could be problematic, you have the right to refuse service. Even in the face of unpaid fares or potential theft, remember that your personal safety should always come first.
Avoiding Physical Confrontations
While your vehicle represents your livelihood, it is crucial not to fight back if threatened with violence. Hand over any money if threatened and leave the investigation to the police.
Enhancing Vehicle Safety
Upgrading your vehicle for safety can really help with peace of mind. Consider modifying your door handles to open only from the inside, fitting deadlocks, or installing partitioned glass between the driver and passenger area. These elements come as standard on black taxis. Sophisticated communication devices can also provide real-time alerts of any problems and help avoid potential trouble zones.
Ultimately, the choice of work hours and locations is a personal decision. In all cases, taxi and private-hire drivers should prioritise their safety. More advice about safety and health concerns can be found on the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work’s website.
Remember, the goal is to ensure not just the passengers’ safety but also the driver’s. With the right precautions, you can feel safe and confident in your ability to do your job.