Keeping passengers, taxi drivers and the public safe are key to the taxi industry and thousands of journeys are enjoyed each day without incident.
But things do go wrong and accidents can happen, which is why it is important that the minimum standards for the industry are set high, to protect everyone involved.
The main aim is to make sure taxi drivers are fit and proper people to pick up fares, and that their vehicles are safe to carry passengers, but standards are set differently by different licensing authorities.
In order to ensure a minimum standard across the Taxi industry, 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.
It also ensures that drivers keep up to date with vehicle maintenance and repairs and replace their vehicles when necessary to ensure they continue to meet high safety standards. Patons Taxis has more than 50 makes and models of vehicles chosen specifically for taxi and private hire work.
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.”
What other ways can you think of to improve standards in the fleet?