Taxi drivers keeping their cabs clean . . . and legal

Dirty taxi

When passengers get into a cab, they expect it to be safe, comfortable and clean – and taxi drivers have a long-standing reputation for keeping their cars spotless.

This isn’t easy, especially with the British weather and having dozens of people in and out of their cabs each day.

As well as a tidy taxi being part of good customer service, there are times when dirty cars can land the driver in trouble with the police. While many people don’t have the time or inclination to keep their cars showroom ready, what’s worrying is that nearly half of drivers on Britain’s roads didn’t know that dirty cars can be dangerous – and illegal.

Insurance comparison site Comparethemarket found that 47 per cent of drivers weren’t aware that they could be fined or receive points on their licence for having a dirty windscreen.

The Highway Code states that a driver’s vision must be free from obstructions, and drivers can be fined up to £2,500, receive three points or even lose their licence for driving a vehicle in a dangerous condition in relation to visibility.

This includes dirt, ice and snow on the outside, smears or marks on the inside, rubbish piling up inside that could become wedged under the pedals, or clutter on dashboards that could obscure visibility.

On the outside of the vehicle, the Highway Code states that lights, indicators, reflectors, and number plates must be kept clean and clear. Failing to properly clean headlights and rear lights could mean their brightness is reduced, affecting the ability to see at night, as well the ability to be seen by other road users. Anyone who lets the dirt build up or fails to clear snow and ice from them faces a fine of up to 1,000.

And even those who keep their windscreens clean and clear from obstacles could land themselves in hot water if they don’t keep their screen wash topped up. Mud and dirt build up quickly on windscreens during winter and reduced visibility after running out of screen wash could lead to a £100 fine.

The Highway Code also warns that number plates are clearly visible and legible and those obscured by dirt could land the driver with a fine of up to £1,000.

As well as hitting drivers in the pocket, penalties that include points could affect a taxi driver’s private hire insurance or black cab insurance premiums.

While taxis are often among the cleanest on our roads, Comparethemarket found that cars in some cities were cleaned twice as often as those in others.

It discovered that cars in the capital are among the best kept, with an average of 40 cleans a year. Cardiff is closely behind London with 38, followed by Nottingham with 36, 35 in Manchester and Leeds with 34.

However, the cities with the dirtiest cars are Sheffield with 20 cleans a year, followed by Plymouth with 21, Southampton on 23, and Belfast and Bristol tied with 25.

Julie Daniels, of Comparethemarket, told Taxi Point: “It’s important to regularly clean the inside of your vehicle and remove any potential dangers or distractions that could impact the ability to drive safely. Under the Highway Code, failing to do this would be considered dangerous driving, and could land drivers with an unlimited fine or three to 11 penalty points on their licence.

“The fact that 47 per cent of Brits are unaware they could be fined or given penalty points for a dirty interior windscreen is concerning and the importance of removing hazards and distractions from the inside of a vehicle should be taken seriously, to ensure the safety of themselves, and other road users.”

Few people would want to get into a dirty taxi and a cab that is well maintained is more welcoming and safer than one covered in dirt and with poor visibility.

Information correct at time of publication. Information provided within this article may have changed over time. No responsibility for its accuracy or correctness is assumed by John Patons Insurance Services or any of its employees.