One of the biggest problems with taxi scare stories is there are so many of them these days that they all seem to blur into one big cliché. It always tends to be anecdotal tales from friends, or friends of friends, that have encountered something untoward when heading from one place to another by taxi. Suffice to say, the vast majority isn’t talking about everyday Camberley taxis leading them astray, but rather the weird and wonderful services encountered overseas.
Of course, to totally let your guard down is never a good idea as there will in every industry always be those that are out to do you wrong. At the same time, though, avoiding dodgy and dangerous taxis is actually pretty easy on the whole – it’s just a case of having your wits about you and keeping a few common sense tips in mind.
Don’t Get in If You’re Not Sure
The best way of avoiding a dodgy taxi service is of course to not get in the thing in the first place. Obvious rules to follow include that of avoiding drunk-looking drivers, those smoking marijuana behind the wheel and so on and so forth, but you should also NEVER get into a taxi in the following instances:
- Decrepit Cars – In order for any taxi to be officially licensed these days, it needs to be in good working order. In any case, you’re better off not putting your safety at risk in a clapped-out old banger.
- No Meter – If you’ve flagged down the taxi in the street or jumped in at a cab rank, the vehicle is by law required to be fitted with a meter that’s used for the journey. If there’s no meter or if the driver doesn’t turn it on, you need to walk away and try elsewhere.
- Licensing – All taxis are required to not only be licensed, but make it abundantly clear by displaying the licensing details to the passenger. If you can’t see all the information you need, there’s probably a rather worrying explanation for this.
- Sense of Direction – All taxi drivers have to start somewhere, in life, but if you flag down a taxi and the driver doesn’t seem to have a clue where you’re going even though it’s a really obvious and common destination, you could be looking at an out-of-town scammer. Strong local knowledge is usually a sign of quality.
In terms of actually getting a taxi booked or flagged down in the first place, the safest and very best option in every single instance across the board is to book with a registered and verified taxi company. The web is littered with thousands of the things these days all over the country, so if you’re planning a journey in advance, there’s generally nothing to worry about. It’s just a case of checking the reputation of the service prior to making the booking.
If however you’re already out and about, there are certain guidelines to follow for your own safety and wellbeing, which include the following:
- User Ranks – When you use a taxi rank with a permanent queue of cars, it’s highly unlikely that you’ll come across a dodgy operator. If, by contrast, there’s a taxi rank and some random outside taxi pulls up and offers you a chance to jump the queue, it’s really not worth taking the risk.
- Beware the Share – It’s often seen as a much safer idea to find someone that’s heading in your general direction to share the cab with, but this isn’t always the case. Unless it’s someone you’ve known for long enough to have real trust in, you must be aware that last-minute sharing offers are some of the most common and effective scam tactics on Earth. So, if anyone just randomly shows up at the last second and happens to be going where you’re going, don’t accept the offer.
- Cab Checks – No matter how you flag down the taxi, it’s always a good idea to go for an example that genuinely couldn’t be more clearly from a real taxi company. From door stickers to roof lights to telephone numbers of the various bits of licensing hanging from the mirror, all of these and more are much more reassuring signs than a largely unmarked vehicle.
- Crowded Locations – Last up, it can be tempting to find a quieter place to improve your chances of flagging down a taxi, but these are exactly the kinds of areas in which the dodgier drivers operate. More people around you at the time means more witnesses and a wholly reduced chance of any scam taxi drivers taking the chance of being spotted by someone they’ve ripped off before.