Taxi driving can be a really rewarding job ­– meeting new people every day and helping them get to their destinations safely and on time.

Government statistics show that there were more than 285,000 taxis and private hire vehicles (PHVs) in the UK in March 2018, so it’s obviously a popular career choice for many. But, as with any vocation, there can also be some key challenges to overcome.

For a taxi driver, the most common problems tend to stem from customers and other road users – which is why it’s always a good idea to have the right taxi insurance in place.

If you’re thinking about starting your own taxi business or joining an established firm, it pays to be prepared. You’ll want to find out about some of the things that could cause problems down the line. So let’s take a look at some of the issues that taxi drivers face on a daily basis. If you think you can handle these, you may well have a long and potentially lucrative career ahead of you.

  1. Abusive customers

    Taxi drivers sometimes have to work unsociable hours ­– it’s just part of the shift system cab firms operate. When you’re dropping people off at nightclubs or picking them up from parties at 2am, they might be a little worse for wear, which is when the problems can begin. If you find yourself facing an abusive customer, whether they’re drunk or otherwise, it can be scary and intimidating if they become aggressive.

    As the HSE website explains, being polite to your customers and keeping calm is key is a stressful situation.

    It advises that you should:

    • Keep eye contact with the customer
    • Try to maintain a non-confrontational manner
    • Try not to fight back if you can help it
    • Stay with the cab, so you can call for help on the radio if needed

    Workplace Safety also suggests a few extra things you could try:

    • Add CCTV to your car
    • Use a plastic partition with a lockable sliding window
    • Use instant messaging to let people know where you are at all times
    • Use deadlocks or modify car handles so they can only be opened on the inside
  2. Non-payment

    Non-payment (or bilking as it’s also known) is an age-old problem for taxi drivers. It goes without saying that if you want to build a sustainable, profitable business you need to collect those fares!

    When customers make off without paying, they are actually committing theft. And if they get into the taxi knowing full well that they have no money, and fail to tell the taxi driver until the end of the journey, this is fraud. Both offences are police matters, which you should report to the authorities as soon as possible.

    As West Midlands Police advises, you shouldn’t try to stop the customer from leaving the taxi, as locking them in your car could expose you to further danger.

    They say that you should consider asking for payment up front to avoid this situation in the first place.

  3. Robbery

    One of the biggest threats for taxi drivers is armed robbery. The perception is that taxi drivers will have lots of cash or mobile phones in the car and that they’re easy pickings. Some of the most common weapons used against taxi drivers have been syringes, CF sprays and knives.

    As the HSE points out, it’s best to refuse a job if you feel unsafe. Bear in mind, though, that it is an offence for a licensed driver to refuse a fare without a good excuse ­­– and just being drunk is not enough of a reason for refusal.

    Don’t chase after people if they fail to pay ­as leaving the taxi can make you even more vulnerable. And even though chatting with passengers can be a sign of good customer service, don’t give them any personal information they could use against you. For example, don’t tell them when you’re finishing your shift or where you live.

    Many taxis now take credit or debit card payments, including all black cabs in London, so consider getting your taxi fitted with this facility to minimise the amount of cash you’re carrying around.

  4. Health issues and tiredness

    Have you done your 10,000 steps today? If you’re a taxi driver, the answer’s probably no. Sedentary lifestyles have been proven to be bad for the health but taxi drivers have to sit down for most of the day – when they’re driving around and waiting for fares.

    As the NHS points out, sitting for long periods has been linked to obesity, diabetes, cancer and even early death.

    There can be health dangers when driving a taxi, too. This taxi driver’s skin cancer was caused from UV radiation penetrating the windows of the taxi. That’s why it’s important to wear sunscreen, even when you’re in the car.

    Tiredness can also be a big problem for taxi drivers, especially if they work late into the night. There are specific rules around how many hours a driver can work, and when they need to take a rest, on the DVLA’s website.

Quick tips for taxi drivers

All jobs come with their own risks and overall, taxi driving is a safe profession. However, it’s best to be prepared for any eventuality and, if you’re a business owner, it will pay to keep your staff training up to date so they know how to react if they find themselves in a tricky situation.

Taxi Mart has some great quick tips to help keep taxi drivers safe, which include:

  • Know your city, and avoid dropping off in dead ends
  • Keep up to date with your emergency procedures
  • Stay alert and well, making sure you eat and rest at the proper times
  • Always trust your instincts

Compare taxi insurance

Whether you’ve got a single vehicle or a whole fleet, your taxi is your livelihood so it needs to be protected when you’re out and about. At Taxi Insurer, we have access to a panel of leading UK insurers so we can quickly help you compare quotes for taxi insurance policies that suit your needs.

Benefits of arranging taxi insurance through Taxi Insurer can include:

  • Interest-free payment plans
  • Low deposits
  • Public Liability cover
  • Employer’s Liability cover

To get a quick quote for taxi insurance, call our friendly team today with your registration number and driving license and let us do the hard work for you.

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