South Lakes council issues tips for keeping safe if using taxis this festive period

South Lakeland District Council has asked the public to check they are using licensed Hackney carriages or private hire vehicles over the Christmas period and has issued a series of tips for staying safe, as some members of the public may not be aware of the difference between these vehicles and how to check if they are licensed.

During the party season, some people will be out late and will need to use taxis rather than driving, or walking on their own in the dark.

The council says Hackney Carriage (or taxis) and private hire vehicles give you a degree of protection because vehicles and drivers must meet suitability criteria, including local standards for vehicles and a criminal record and health check for drivers, before they are licensed by South Lakeland District Council.

Hackney carriages are the only vehicle authorised to ply for hire on the streets.

These are often vehicles parked in taxi ranks, which should all display the following:

• Rear plate (white) - which shows a serial number, registration number, type of vehicle, expiry date and seating capacity, of the vehicle.

• Door signs – these display the vehicle’s serial number.

• Roof sign – this is generally an illuminated sign ‘taxi’.

• Internal badge – displays the serial number and seating capacity.

• Internal driver ID badge – the driver’s ID badge will be on display this shows a photograph of the driver, name, serial number and expiry date.

• A taxi meter will also be fitted inside the vehicle, which the driver must operate for the duration of the journey.

Private Hire vehicles are not authorised to pick up passengers unless a prior booking has been made with the company operating the vehicle. They will not have a roof sign.

They will also have:

• Rear plate (green) – which shows a serial number, registration number, type of vehicle, expiry date and seating capacity.

• Door signs – these display the vehicle’s serial number. They will also say ‘pre-booked journeys only’.

• Internal driver ID badge – the drivers ID badge will be on display which shows a photograph of the driver, name, serial number and expiry date.

The council says the public should be aware that if they are approached by someone in the street offering a taxi or private hire vehicle journey they should ignore them as touting is an offence.

It is important that people check that the taxi or private hire vehicle that arrives is the one that they ordered. Ask for a description of the car: colour, make, etc. and check this when it arrives.

It is also useful for customers to ask for the name of the driver beforehand and make a note of the company used, their telephone details and if possible, leave these details with someone else.

If travelling alone, sit behind the driver in the back seat. When customers reach their destination, they should ask the driver to wait until they are safely inside.

If someone feels uneasy, they should ask to be let out in a well-lit area where there are plenty of people. If in any doubt, they should make an excuse and not get in the vehicle.

The safety and security of drivers is important too, says the council. Drivers should be treated with respect, and people should make sure that they have money left at the end of the night to pay the fare.

SLDC’s Public Protection Manager, Phil Greenup, said: “The council works with the taxi and private hire trade to ensure that the drivers and vehicles are safe and suitable. People in South Lakeland should feel safe when using taxis during the festive period and these tips will help them to ensure they get home safely at the end of what has hopefully been a good night.”

If anyone has any problems regarding a vehicle or driver, they should obtain the licence number, registration or driver badge ID.

Complaints can be submitted to South Lakeland District Council Licensing Office at South Lakeland House, Lowther Street, Kendal, LA9 4UD. Telephone: 08450504434 Email: licensing@southlakeland.gov.uk

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