First and most importantly make sure that the vehicle you are getting into has a taxi plate. This is usually fixed to the rear of the vehicle and is issued by the local licensing authority. The plate will have the vehicle license number, the name of the licensing authority and the number of passengers than can legally be carried at any one time. The colour and design of these plates vary between different licensing authority e.g. Leicester Taxis have a yellow plate.
In order for the vehicle to keep its taxi plate it has to pass at least two local council quality and safety tests per year. The local council’s testing station will usually test the vehicle every six months. This test is stricter than a regular MOT test and includes criteria for passenger safety as well as vehicle road worthiness. By ensuring the vehicle you are getting in has this Local authority plate you are ensuring that the vehicle has been passed by the Local authority to be safe to be taking passengers.
Once you are satisfied that the vehicle has the correct local authority plate you should then check that the driver has a taxi driver license which is commonly referred to as the drivers « badge ». Again, this is issued by the local council uplon successful completion of their taxi driver tests. These tests usually involve a driving test, a local area test and a test on various taxi related issues. The council will also perform a Criminal Records Bureau check (CRB) before issuing the license. The driver should display this badge at all times so that the customer can clearly see it. On the badge will be displayed the driver’s name, his photograph, the issuing authority and the date that the license is valid from and to. If the driver does not have a badge then do not get in his vehicle as he is unlicensed.
When booking your taxi you can ask the company to call you back or text you when they are outside. This way you do not have to wait outside on the street for your taxi to arrive. This is especially important at night or if you are alone.
Many city centres now offer « safe zones » at night times which are usually located in busy areas with plenty of people as well as police officers around. Booking your taxi from one of these areas ensures that you will be waiting in a safe and populated area rather than a quiet street which may be deserted. Again, this is highly recommended if you happen to be alone in the town centre. If you cannot get to one of these safe zones then try to stay indoors as long as possible and insist on the company contacting you when the taxi is outside using one of the methods described above.
When dealing with the price of the journey there are two methods used. The most common method is to use an in car meter that works out the price of the job based on distance travelled or time in the vehicle or a combination of the two. If the taxi operates this type of pricing then it is important to make sure that the meter is turned on when you get into the cab and that it is set to zero. The second method used to price the journey is pre set pricing. Here the price is pre set by the company based on the distance pick up point and destination. This option allows the customer to get an exact quote before booking the taxi and so avoids any problems later on over price.
Pre booking your taxi is also highly advised. Doing so ensures that you have a taxi waiting for you when you are ready to leave rather than having to flag down a hackney cab or have to call around many taxi companies who may not be able to get to you straight away during busy periods. Pre booking with your regular taxi company also gives you some familiarity with the company you are using so you will have a good idea of the price of the journey. You may even recognise the drivers/cars etc. As a regular customer who has pre booked the company is also more likely to give you preferential treatment if they happen to be running late etc.