Safety is key to the taxi fleet and there are rules in place to make sure taxi drivers are fit and proper people to pick up fares, as well as checks to ensure their vehicles are safe to carry passengers.
Whether it is a black cab or private hire vehicle, all drivers must comply in order to work in the fleet, and they must be licensed with their local authority. While many of the regulations and requirements are standard, there are differences in the requirements between licensing authorities.
In order to ensure a minimum standard across the fleet, there have been calls for national regulations which would apply to every taxi and private hire vehicle in the UK. The aim is to protect particularly vulnerable people such as women on their own at night, people who are heavily intoxicated after a night out, as well as those with disabilities or needing assistance.
When it comes to taxi insurance, the standards are the same in whichever town or city a driver operates, and whether they have public hire insurance or private hire insurance. The minimum third-party cover means that passengers and any other vehicle involved in a crash will be covered by the taxi driver’s insurance, if they were found to be at fault.
By creating a national standard, passengers in any part of the UK who hail black cabs in the street or at a taxi rank, as well as those booking private hire vehicles, can do so with the confidence that the drivers have been thoroughly vetted and that the vehicles are safe. The aim is to close any loopholes or differences that mean someone who might not be obtain a taxi licence from one authority can apply to another and be back on the road.
Ministers have now confirmed that the Department for Transport has been implementing several measures to strengthen the taxi licensing conditions across the UK and, as Taxi Point reports, “remains ‘committed’ to creating national taxi licensing legislation”.
The Statutory Taxi and Private Hire Vehicle Standards was published in 2020 to improve safeguarding standards for the most vulnerable passengers. This includes six-monthly DBS checks for drivers, who must also undergo safeguarding awareness training.
The aim of the six-monthly checks is to ensure that drivers who commit criminal offences cannot not slip through the net and continue driving for months or years.
TaxiPoint reports that transport minister Richard Holden is “committed to creating national licensing standards for taxis and private hire vehicles”.
Mr Holden was asked by Julian Knight MP what steps the DfT is taking to strengthen taxi licensing conditions.
Mr Holden said: “The Department published its Statutory Taxi and Private Hire Vehicle Standards in 2020 which focus on safeguarding standards to protect the most vulnerable, but provide benefits for all passengers. The recommendations include six-monthly DBS checks at the highest level and safeguarding awareness training for all drivers. Licensing authorities should implement these high standards unless there is a compelling local reason not to.
“The Department has also consulted on revised Best Practice Guidance which provides recommendations on licensing issues not covered by the Statutory Standards. The final version of the guidance will be published in due course.
“Government remains committed to legislating to create national licensing standards for taxis and private hire vehicles when parliamentary time allows.”
Do the measures go far enough? What other ways can you think of to improve standards in the industry?
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