SOUTH Lakeland District Council has warned the public to be aware of what taxis they get in over the festive period.
It has issued a series of tips for staying safe because it says some members of the public may not know the difference between licensed and unlicensed vehicles.
The authority says Hackney Carriage (or taxis) and Private Hire Vehicles give 'a degree of protection' because vehicles and drivers must meet suitability criteria.
These include standards for vehicles and a criminal record and health check for drivers, before being licensed.
Hackney carriages are the only vehicle authorised for hire on the streets, said the council.
These are often vehicles parked in taxi ranks, which the council says 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.
The council says 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 and 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 said 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'.
SLDC says it is important that people check that the taxi or private hire vehicle that arrives is the one that they ordered.
It suggests they ask for a description of the car: colour, make, etc and check this when it arrives.
They also say it is 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 the details with someone else.
They suggest if travelling alone to sit behind the driver in the back seat.
The council guidance suggests that when customers reach their destination, they should ask the driver to wait until they are safely inside.
They say if someone feels uneasy, they should ask to be let out in a well-lit area where there are plenty of people.
The council added that if in any doubt, they should make an excuse and not get in the vehicle.
SLDC said the safety and security of drivers is important too and that they '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: 0845 0504 434 or by emailing email@example.com