Staying safe when catching a cab

Do you know the difference between a private hire vehicle and a hackney carriage? How about how to tell if the taxi you hire is legitimate?

Last week was National Licensing Week and Council officers are reminding local people the importance of knowing the differences in the types of taxis out there and how to tell if your taxi is legitimate.

So what is a private hire vehicle?

A private hire vehicle is a vehicle that must be pre-booked. They cannot stand in a designated taxi rank to pick up passengers.

These vehicles will have signage on the doors of the vehicles stating that they can only accept advanced bookings. These signs will show details of the operator they work from, including the company name and telephone number.

Private Hire Vehicles should have a yellow licence plate attached to the back of the vehicle.

And Hackney carriages?

Hackney carriages are vehicles that can be hailed by members of the public. They can stand in taxi ranks to pick up passengers and do not need to be pre-booked.

These taxis will have a ‘taxi’ roof sign that illuminates when they’re available for hire. Also, a card outlining the tariffs that they charge should be on display inside the vehicle.

Hackney carriages should also have a white licence plate fixed to the back of the vehicle.

What should I expect to see in a taxi?

Whether they’re a private hire or hackney carriage vehicle, the inside and outside of the vehicle should be clean and tidy.

Drivers are responsible for maintaining their vehicles, ensuring that they are clean, tidy and in good working order, as well as adhering to the requirements of their license.

There should be no clear signs of defects to the vehicle structure or to the paintwork.

All vehicles should have their licence plate fixed to the back of the vehicle, with their plate number and the expiry date of their licence.

The vehicles should also have correct signage such as ‘no smoking’ and CCTV stickers where applicable.

If the driver is exempt from any duties on medical grounds they will have a yellow exemption badge in the front window to advice passengers.

The driver should have their ID badge visible at all times. This shows the expiry date of their driver’s licence. For Hackney carriages, the ID badges are white and for private hire vehicles they are yellow.

All drivers should also be presentable and should abide by a specific dress code.

Councillor Ron Shepherd, portfolio holder for safer and stronger communities, said: “Whether you’re out with friends or going shopping, taxis are a huge help to a lot of people”.

“It’s important that people know the differences between the types of taxi’s available, and how to tell if a taxi is safe to climb into”.

“We have lots of great taxi drivers in our area that abide by the law and work with us. We carry out regular inspections of vehicles, working with the Police to take any unsafe vehicles and drivers off of the road.”

If you spot a taxi that doesn’t conform to these rules, you can report it by emailing or calling 01472 326299

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