A campaign has been launched to recruit more women taxi drivers to strengthen a city’s fleet and keep drivers safe.
There are currently 20,000 licensed taxi and private hire drivers in Wolverhampton, but only 600 of those are women.
The City of Wolverhampton Council is now launching a campaign to redress the balance to encourage more women to become taxi drivers, which it feels will benefit the fleet as a whole.
In a welcome move to help keep the taxi fleet safe, it also approved the purchase of personal safety alarms for all vehicles licensed as a Hackney carriage or private hire vehicle in the city. These can be used if a driver feels threatened, is being attacked or is in imminent danger.
And the council’s regulatory committee endorsed the Safety Tips for Taxi and Private Hire Drivers guidance booklet, which has been produced to help taxi workers safe.
It offers practical, easy-to-follow guidance for drivers who, by the nature of the job, are working on their own, often in isolated areas and may well be handling cash. At night, they often deal with drunk passengers who could cause trouble or even become violent.
The guidance is aimed at keeping all drivers safe and to encourage others to join the taxi fleet in the knowledge that their safety is paramount.
Councillor Wendy Dalton told the council’s regulatory committee that having more women taxi drivers would bring about “a greater assurance” for all passengers.
She said: “Statistics for taxi driver numbers in Wolverhampton show us that 97 per cent of them are men,” the Express and Star newspaper reported.
“Speaking as a woman, I’d like to see more women taxi drivers as I think this would give all of us more assurance when taking a taxi somewhere, particularly if someone is travelling alone.
“What campaign could this council put forward to have an equality and a balance of more women in the profession?”
The call came amid the backdrop of International Women’s Week last month and is a positive step forward in an industry that is traditionally male dominated.
We have previously spoken to private hire insurance customer Charlotte Hyde about the appeal of becoming a taxi driver, especially with regard to flexibility, after Charlotte swapped a career in nursing for life on the road.
Wolverhampton City Council licensing manager Greg Bickerdike says it is something the council is actively trying to encourage.
He told the committee: “The initiative of working with women is something we are aware of and we are looking at how we can support this and encourage more women into the trade.”
He added: “We do have women who are in this profession, so it will involve speaking to them and understanding the benefits that a career as a licensed driver can provide them with – particularly around flexibility.
“And then the next step would be using that information to promote it to other women who may be fancy a career change, or women who are out of work, in order for us to get more female drivers licensed with us. That is something we are aware of and are working on, so I will be reporting back on it.”
Anything that attracts more women into the fleet is a welcome move and it is also great to see councils like Wolverhampton taking driver safety seriously.
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