Taxi drivers have to personally deal with more strangers on a day to day basis than any other profession. Isolated, carrying cash and often taking people off the streets, at night, with no prior knowledge to who they are or where they are from, means they often find themselves in precarious situations.
Thankfully, violence and abuse are very rare but it does happen, so personal safety should be an absolute priority. With this in mind, we have put together our top ten tips for taxi drivers to ensure you stay safe.
1) Be alert and aware
Making sure you are alert and completely aware of your surroundings both before and during your shift, is the best way to stay safe. To do this ensure you are adequately rested and fed, and be aware of customers who sit directly behind you. Assess the risks by sizing up your customer, keeping an eye on speech and body language and those who give vague instructions on where they are being dropped off.
2) Good customer service
The way you present and conduct yourself with passengers is also crucial. For example, wear professional clothing, look well groomed, maintain eye contact, remain polite and engage in conversation. Employing these techniques will allow you to remain in control, make your passenger feel good and make it psychologically more difficult for them to do wrong by you.
3) Equip yourself
Having the right personal equipment on you at all times such as a mobile phone, spare vehicle key, and an emergency card with all your medical details on means you are prepared for any situation. Carry a notepad and pen to write down everything that happens if an incident does occur, including a thorough description of the passenger and what they said and did. Also, clearly display your fare structure and vehicle policies so your passengers can understand what they are being charged and why.
4) Vehicle adjustments
There are various adjustments you can make to your vehicle to minimise the chances of assault. CCTV cameras can provide important evidence in the event of something going wrong, but also act as a visual deterrent, plastic partitioned glass and impact screens can be fitted acting as a physical barrier, and a convex mirror will allow you to have a full view of the back of your vehicle.
Furthermore, GPS can track where you vehicle is at all times, silent alarm buttons can installed and drivers must remember to alert dispatch to any sudden changes made to your pre-determined journey.
5) Know your emergency procedures
Every taxi company has a set of emergency procedures to follow if disputes do arise with your customers. Knowing your exact location, where the nearest hospital and police stations are and the quickest route from A to B will give you a huge advantage.
6) Do not fight back
Keeping a cool head and not fighting back sounds obvious, but it is more difficult than it sounds. When you lose composure, you also lose your better judgement. It is not worth putting your life in any more danger by becoming argumentative, threatening customers and escalating the situation. Simply hand over what is demanded, call 999 and use your lights and horn to get help and immediately report the incident to dispatch. Live to work another day.
Take extra precautions at night
Night time shifts are often the most profitable but pose the greatest danger to taxi drivers with most assaults and robberies happening between midnight and 4:00 a.m. Keep your doors locked and windows rolled up at all times
Always keep your windows rolled up. Have the window open just wide enough to communicate with the customer. Do not open it all the way such that he can grab any part of you and pull you out of your car.