Being able to drive on British roads means fulfilling all sorts of legal criteria. We have to prove that we’re competent in both a theory and written test, and we have to regularly submit our vehicles for inspection by a competent mechanic, to make that they’re safe.
If you’re going to be using your vehicle to transport people from place to place in exchange for money, then the rules you need to follow become even more stringent (or, in some cases, more relaxed). If you’re a taxi driver, or you find that you’re often taking trips aboard taxis, then it’s worth acquainting yourself with a few of the more notable rules. They’re in place to help ensure passenger safety, and some of them aren’t observed quite as often as they could be. Modern taxis are likely to be compliant with all of the technical requirements, but there are still behavioural ones to think about.
Drivers Don’t need to Wear Seatbelts
While taxi passengers are required by law to wear seatbelts, the same doesn’t apply to drivers. When a taxi is ‘plying for hire’, it’s among the exempted categories of vehicle. This makes it easy for passengers to be assisted with luggage and the like. With that said, there’s no law mandating that drivers should not wear seatbelts – and as such wearing one is often advisable.
The rise and availability of in-cab CCTV has provided drivers with a real boon. It allows problem passengers to be identified, and the evidence to be presented in court if necessary. It also makes it easier to track down lost items. But according to the Information Commissioner’s Office, having the CCTV on all the time, even when the driver is not on duty, might put a driver at risk of complaint.
In 2017, it became a legal requirement that wheelchair users be given the same treatment as everyone else by taxi drivers. It might be cheaper and quicker to pick up people who don’t need assistance to get into the cab – and so this is a form of discrimination that’s motivated by commercial concerns. But nowadays, drivers who engage in it could find themselves landed with a fine of up to £1,000, or have their license revoked.
You aren’t allowed to smoke in public places. This includes the office, the pub, and the back of a taxicab. Drivers are also required to display a no-smoking sign, or face a fine of up to £200.
Passengers have a right to carry a reasonable amount of luggage with them into the cab, but it’s down to the drivers discretion whether a given passenger’s case qualifies as outsize.
Children who are younger than three should sit next to an adult, rather than holding them. This is considered much safer. If there’s space enough, then a pushchair might be wheeled directly into the cab.