Seasonal driving tips for taxi fleets

From driving through wind, rain and snow to navigating busy summer holiday traffic, every season holds fresh challenges for drivers in your taxi fleet. Our Taxi Insurer tips will be sure to help your drivers cope with everything from April showers or autumn floods to summer sun glare and icy winter mornings. We'll even help you find specialist taxi insurance.

London Bridge

Essential pre-journey checks no matter what the season

When you’re working as a professional driver, day in and day out there are a few things you absolutely have to take care of, no matter how busy you are. Apart from ensuring your vehicle is covered by suitable taxi insurance, you’ll also need to perform regular vehicle checks.

By staying on top of any maintenance issues every time you set out for work, you’ll be able to make sure your vehicle is in tip-top shape and ready to earn you some money.

Whether spring, summer, autumn or winter, here's a list of 17 checks that are well worth performing at the start of every shift:

  1. Check tyre condition and pressure. Don’t forget to check the spare, too.
  2. Are all lights and indicators clean and in working order? Both internally and externally.
  3. Keep the oil and fuel tanks topped up. You can’t afford to run low when you’re in the middle of a job.
  4. Are windscreen wiper blades in good condition? If they’re leaving streaks of water across the glass, or making a juddering sound then they need replacing.
  5. Is the windscreen washer fluid topped up? Refill as necessary using screen wash rather than just water to help maintain visibility.
  6. Check your brakes are working correctly.
  7. Are the heating and ventilation systems working?
  8. Are your windows and mirrors clean and free from cracks, scratches and discolouration? Are they positioned correctly for your needs?
  9. Check the charge on your batteries. Connections and cables also need to be clean and secure.
  10. Check engine coolant levels.
  11. Are all doors and windows operating smoothly?
  12. Check all body panels and doors are secure and undamaged.
  13. Are seatbelts secure and undamaged?
  14. Check there’s nothing that can obstruct a passenger getting into and out of the vehicle safely.
  15. Is the number plate clean and undamaged?
  16. Are accessibility features in good condition? For example, wheelchair ramps, grab handles, and hearing aid induction loop systems.
  17. Check your taxi insurance is up to date and suitable for your business.

If you find any defects then it’s important to get them sorted. Leaving such problems will only allow matters to get worse. It could even end up with your vehicle being taken off the road and your earning potential seriously hampered.

Spring driving tips

Get the marigolds out

You’ll no doubt have a regular cleaning schedule for both inside and outside your vehicle. However, there’s never a better time to go that extra mile than at the start of springtime. Thanks to wet shoes and clothes, the interior may be feeling decidedly damp. While the outside may well have been attacked by salt-laden mud among other rust-causing nasties.

Why not invest in a new set of car mats? Or search out those little chips and dents in the paintwork to stop them getting worse. A perfectly polished taxi looks great as the sun starts to shine. And won’t do any harm to your business image.

Look out for April showers

Our damp little island can suffer rainy patches at any time of year. But spring can be a particularly tricky time for sudden downpours following dry spells. And when rainwater mixes with oil and grease patches left on the road, it can make a slippery mix.

Be aware the pools of water lying on the surface of roads can result in aquaplaning. This temporary loss of steering, braking and power control can be terrifying for all concerned. By keeping your speed low in wet conditions you’ll reduce the likelihood of it happening.

However, if it does happen then the main thing is to stay calm and don’t slam on the brakes. Instead take your foot off the accelerator and let the vehicle slow down gradually. Keep a firm grip of the steering wheel and try not to steer until you feel the tyres regain traction.

Expect the unexpected when gusty winds are about

After the bad weather of winter, drivers can sometimes make the mistake of believing that the worst is behind them. However, spring can certainly have plenty of surprises in store with heavy winds sometimes causing havoc on the roads. When gusty winds are about you could well come across fallen trees, branches, debris and other objects in the road.

When driving in strong winds, keep a firm grip on the steering wheel and keep your speed down. This will give you more control over the vehicle and more time to react to unexpected obstacles.

Steer clear of problem potholes

After winter and before councils have got round to mending the long list of damage to local roads, spring can be the worst time for falling victim to a pothole. If your taxi hits a pothole at high speed, it can cause substantial damage such as flat tyres, bent wheel rims, suspension damage, steering alignment issues, fluid leaks and problems with your exhaust system.

From where to find potholes, how to avoid them, and what to do if you’ve hit a pothole, we’ve got lots of advice elsewhere on our site .

Having taxi insurance is a good way to protect against the financial fallout of such damage. But you may also be able to make a claim for compensation against those responsible for keeping the roads pothole-free.

As you would expect, consumer champion Which? has an excellent 6-step list for taxi drivers looking to claim compensation:

  1. Collect as much evidence of the pothole and any damage as you can. For example, take plenty of pictures.
  2. Report the pothole to either Highways England or the proper local authority. Drivers in Northern Ireland and Scotland have separate reporting procedures.
  3. If urgent repair work needs doing then keep the receipts. For anything else, get a quote.
  4. Find out from the relevant authority how to make a claim. And then follow their procedure.
  5. You might need to negotiate over repair costs. But if your claim is rejected then you might have grounds for an appeal.
  6. If this doesn’t work then you might need to consider taking your claim to the small claims court.

Don’t be surprised by spring sunshine

After a long, dark and cold winter we’re all desperate to see the sun emerge. However, during the early morning or evening rush hour, the very low spring sun can cause dangerous glare for drivers. Particularly for those who may not have seen the sun for a couple of months.

Keeping your windscreen spotless and a pair of sunglasses close at hand could all help improve visibility during this time. And don’t forget to slow down as you might be blind to potential dangers along the way.

Summer driving tips

Keep passengers and other drivers onside

While we all enjoy a spot of warmer weather, when it gets too hot, tempers can start to fray and people can get really quite grumpy. When it comes to passengers the key thing to remember is to not give them anything to complain about in the first place.

So, turning up on time, asking them if they’d like the windows open or air conditioning on, or even offering them a complimentary bottle of water could really help when they’re struggling in the heat.

But it isn’t just your passengers you need to consider. Other road users can be far from patient, particularly when they’ve already spent hours sitting in holiday traffic on a stuffy summer’s day. Always take extra special care to avoid getting into any confrontation. Take a look at our advice on how to deal with road rage as a cabbie and keep out of trouble!

Beware heat exhaustion and dehydration

Whether or not you’ve got a state-of-the-art air conditioning system, the hot weather can begin to take its toll on you after several hours behind the wheel. Staying well hydrated and fed will keep you energised and stop the heat from getting the better of you. Indeed, heat exhaustion and even heatstroke can easily creep up on you when you’re focused on driving.

Consider taking a break during the hottest parts of the day. The NHS warns heat exhaustion is a real issue in the UK so you need to take measures to keep yourself cool while driving. These include drinking plenty of cold drinks, taking a cool bath or shower, and wearing light-coloured, loose clothing.

And it’s not just your body that can suffer. High temperatures and being stuck in holiday traffic queues can also cause problems with car cooling systems, too. To avoid overheating, regularly check the coolant and cooling system. After all, you don’t want your trusty taxi being put out of action by the summer heat.

Keep your taxi smelling summer fresh

It may be a bit embarrassing to admit, but no matter how clean your car is, after carrying lots of warm, sweaty people around, your taxi could start to whiff after a while. Using the air con is a good way to keep everyone fresh but it can eat into fuel consumption.

Be sure to regularly take the opportunity to air the car out as part of your regular routine. You could also invest in an odour neutraliser to spray after each ride. Or perhaps book in a regular valet service to keep your cab smelling fresh during the summer.

Stay alert to other road users

When the sun starts to shine, you’ll probably notice the increasing numbers of leisure users on the roads. It’s part of your responsibility as a taxi driver to take particular care around those more vulnerable than you such as cyclists, walkers and horse riders. Always keep the following in mind:

  • Keep your distance and be patient.
  • Pass wide, slow and with caution.

Further important advice can be obtained from the British Horse Society and Cycling UK.

If your regular taxi patch includes rural areas then you can also expect to come across more farming traffic. Tractors, trailers and other farm machinery tend to be slow moving and not particularly manoeuvrable. So, try to be patient and avoid making any risky overtaking procedures. Remember such vehicles can often be longer than you think!

Don’t let hay fever and allergies get you down

Hay fever and other allergies can be particularly bad during the summer months. To help control the symptoms we advise the following:

  • Check your medication doesn't cause drowsiness or affect your ability to drive safely.
  • Closing windows and air vents will reduce pollen in the car, although this may affect temperature inside the cab.
  • Clean mats and carpets regularly to get rid of dust or other allergens.
  • Keep a pack of tissues nearby.
  • Wear sunglasses to block out bright sunlight. They’ll also reduce that summer sun glare.

Taxi driver

Autumn driving tips

Watch out for wildlife

As summer ends and harvest time approaches you may well come across more animals when you’re out on your daily trips. Autumn is a fantastic time for spotting UK wildlife. With many animals including foxes, badgers, and rabbits out in force and looking to build up reserves of fat for the long winter ahead.

With that in mind, you need to take extra care on the roads. As it’s all too easy for such animals to wander into the road and potentially cause an accident.

Depending on the area you’re in, a particular wildlife hazard comes when it’s time for the deer stags to rut. Hitting a deer of any size is likely to lead to a serious accident and considerable damage to your taxi.  The British Deer Society says autumn is one of the most dangerous times and has issued some important advice for drivers that’s well worth reading.

Take care around fallen leaves and mud

Autumn leaves look stunning when they’re still on the trees, but when they begin to fall it’s all too easy for them to build up and develop into a serious hazard. Whether you’re driving in rural locations or on tree-lined roads in towns and cities, watch out. Also be on the lookout for mud. As well as being very slippery, it can also play havoc with your taxi’s paintwork.

Don’t get distracted

Autumn is a popular time of year for exciting festivities such as Halloween and Bonfire night. However, you need to stay focused on the road. Don't get distracted by the colourful costumes of passengers or the lights and fireworks all around.

Stay ahead of bad weather

Driving in bad weather is never fun, but as someone who drives for a living it’s an occupational hazard. Here are some driving tips to keep you safe.

  • Don’t try to drive through a flood if you can help it.
  • Are your fog lights in working order? Add them to the daily checklist.
  • Watch your distance from the vehicle in front, they might brake suddenly.
  • Always keep an emergency kit in your taxi to deal with any mishaps. Include items such as a first aid kit, torch, high vis vest and hazard warning triangle and jump cables. There’s a useful emergency car kit checklist worth reading here.

Winter driving tips

Go slow and pay close attention to road conditions

Whether due to rain, snow or ice, road conditions can be particularly hazardous in the winter months. Keeping your speed in check and watching your distance from other cars are just some of the ways to steer clear of any accidents.

You also need to be particularly watchful of the dreaded ‘black ice’. Especially at night or in the early hours when temperatures are at their lowest. Black ice is very difficult to detect as it often looks the same as the road’s surface. If you don’t see it in time, you could have a nasty accident.

Look after yourself during party season

With all the work parties and end-of-year catch-ups with friends and family, being a taxi driver in winter time can be both lucrative but also risky. The vast majority of people won’t cause you any problems but you never know when you might pick up a tricky fare. How to deal with difficult passengers and how to stay safe are vital parts of the taxi driver skill set.

And it’s not just your own passengers that could cause a problem. Whether in the night or during the next morning you need to stay aware that other drivers may have been drinking and they might not make the right decisions when on the road.

Keep an eye out for congestion

Yet another hazard of the job, the UK’s streets and roads can be particularly congested at winter time as everyone is rushing around to get Christmas presents and festive supplies.

While a congested road may mean you’re less likely to be involved in a high-speed collision, that doesn’t mean you can let your guard down. Accidents at low speeds are an all-too-common occurrence. Don’t let a momentary loss of concentration cause a dent in your profits.

If you want even more winter driving tips (and let’s face it, who doesn’t?) then read this Taxi Insurer article. It details everything you need to do to protect your vehicle including getting the right specialist taxi insurance.

Protect your business with taxi insurance

Winter can be a particularly busy time for both family, social and business interests. And the specialist team at Taxi Insurer knows how hard it is to juggle all your competing responsibilities. So we’ve come up with plenty of useful ideas to help. For example, we’ve made interest-free payment plans available to make your taxi insurance more manageable alongside other expenses.

Throughout the seasons, Taxi Insurer spends its time working alongside our trusted panel of insurers, so you’ll always be in the safest pair of hands.

There are many benefits of taxi cover arranged through Taxi Insurer. These could include:

  • Protected NCB available
  • Cover for minibus, MPVs and car
  • Cover for private and public hire
  • 24-hour claims management service
  • UK-based call centre

Don’t put it off, get a quote for taxi insurance today and protect your livelihood.

Policy benefits, features and discounts offered may very between insurance schemes or cover selected and are subject to underwriting criteria. Information contained within this article is accurate at the time of publishing but may be subject to change.