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Taxi Safety

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Travelling by taxi or minicab is generally very safe, but it is important to take sensible precautions, like making sure the vehicle is licensed. Find out what you can do to stay safe.

Make sure your taxi or private hire vehicle is legal

A taxi or private hire vehicle (minicab) that is unlicensed is operating illegally and has not gone through the proper checks that licensing authorities enforce.

Do not use a cab if:

  • the driver appears to be under the influence of alcohol
  • the driver does not seem to know the local area
  • the vehicle seems to be too old for use as a cab
  • the vehicle is in a state of disrepair

Safety tips while travelling

It is a good idea to:

  • make a note of the number plate and driver's licence number and text them to someone as an extra precaution
  • take a picture of the vehicle if you have a camera phone
  • always sit in the back of the vehicle
  • carry your mobile phone in your hand so it is easily accessible

Becoming a taxi or private hire driver

Professional taxi and private hire vehicle drivers are responsible for the safety of fare paying passengers. You will need a full driving licence and some local authorities require you to pass a further driving assessment. Find out what’s included in the taxi and private hire assessments.

Who can become a taxi or private hire driver

To become a taxi or private hire vehicle driver you must:

  • be able to work legally in the UK
  • hold either a full UK driver's licence issued by the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency, or a full European Union driving licence together with a UK paper counterpart

Other requirements may include paying a fee and passing a:

  • criminal record check
  • medical
  • 'knowledge' test, to prove you have reasonable geographical knowledge of the area in which you intend to drive
  • Driving Standards Agency (DSA) practical taxi test

DSA practical taxi test

Some local authority areas also require drivers to take a DSA taxi test. The test standard is set at a level suitable for full driving licence holders, which is higher than the learner driver test.

Eyesight test

Before the practical taxi test, your examiner will ask you to read the number plate on a stationary vehicle. You can use glasses or contact lenses if you wear them. If you fail the eyesight test, you will be unable to take the driving part of the assessment. However, you will still be able to continue with the wheelchair section if appropriate.

Practical test

The practical taxi test will last for 35 to 40 minutes. Some skills assessed are specific to taxi drivers, such as:

  • making U-turns
  • not stopping where it could be dangerous for a passenger getting out of your vehicle

The examiner will also ask you some questions on the Highway Code and ask you to identify some traffic signs and road markings.

Your practical driving test will include approximately ten minutes of independent driving. This is designed to assess your ability to drive safely while making decisions independently.

Wheelchair excercise

If the licensing authority require you to take the wheelchair assessment as part of your test you'll need to show you know how to:

  • operate the entry ramp
  • secure your passengers safely

What happens at the end of the test

To pass the taxi driving test you need to complete it with no more than nine minor faults. You will fail if you make any serious or dangerous errors.

If you fail the practical test you must wait a minimum period of three clear working days between tests. There is no limit to the number of attempts you may take.

You can get more information on the DSA taxi test by asking for a copy of the private hire/hackney carriage assessment booklet. You can get this from the local council in the area where you wish to operate.

Taxi licensing authorities


© 2011 Taxi Register