11 February 2020

How To Drive Your Taxi Safely This Winter

With winter already hitting us hard, weather conditions are expected to become more severe as the temperature gets colder and the nights get longer. To help you prepare, we’ve created a list of things for you to be aware of, and things to avoid.

How can I prepare for icy driving conditions?

  1. It’s highly advised to use winter tyres in icy weather. They can dramatically improve stability on the roads if the temperature gets too low, and grip well in icy conditions
  2. De-ice the car every night before a morning shift to prevent the need to scrape off the ice in the morning. Alternatively, if you have space in the garage for the cab, keep it safe there for the night
  3. If it has snowed, get your driveway cleared up as soon as possible to avoid the need to rush before your next shift starts
  4. Have an emergency car kit in your taxi. This way you’ll be well-prepared in the unlikely event of an emergency. The kit should include a highly visible jacket, a warning triangle, a phone charger, and some water and food at the bare minimum
  5. Dress appropriately to keep warm, don’t let yourself get too cold when working
  6. Top up on antifreeze, as hot water can damage your windows if used too much

Am I obliged to drive around if the weather is bad?

This will vary depending on the company. Uber drivers generally get to choose their own hours, and have the freedom to choose whether or not they want to operate in dangerous weather. If you’re working for a taxi operator, it is best to check with them to see what their policy is regarding winter weather.

Am I allowed to charge passengers more in bad weather?

If you’re braving the weather this winter, it may be tempting to want to charge passengers more for your work. However, whether or not you’re allowed to do this will depend on your operator.

For black cabs with regulated fares, you will not be able to charge any extra for driving in dangerous weather.

With companies such as Uber, prices may rise during bad weather due to fewer drivers working, and higher demand for taxis. Other firms may allow their drivers to charge a set fee to their fares, but this will vary depending on the firm in question.

How to keep safe when on the road

  1. Keep your full focus on the road, especially during the winter months when weather conditions may impair your vision of what’s ahead
  2. During heavy snow, be sure to use full beams and fog lights to ensure you can see the road ahead
  3. Be aware of ice on the road, especially black ice which can be almost transparent to the naked eye
  4. Stay informed of any news about the weather by tuning into the radio
  5. Only drive when the roads are safe, and avoid areas with heavy traffic

How do I keep my passengers safe?

  1. Reduce your speed whenever possible to reduce the chance of slipping, and allow more time to leave
  2. If you find your taxi skidding along the ice, stay focused to control how you brake. Softly pump on the brakes to trigger the ABS (anti-lock braking system) to safely lock them
  3. When skidding, carefully turn your steering wheel in the direction of the skid
  4. Be sure you know your route before picking them up. Whilst it is necessary to sometimes check your sat-nav to ensure you’re going the right way, knowing your route allows you to keep more focus on the road
  5. Keep a towel in the taxi so that you can dry the floor after every few fares, your taxi can easily become wet and slippery during snow and rain
  6. Sometimes during icy weather, the longer route may be the safer one. A few extra minutes can mean a lot when it comes to staying safe. Be sure to inform your passengers of this, however, as a longer route can sometimes result in a higher fare
  7. Don’t allow passengers to rush you. Both your passenger’s safety and your safety are most important
  8. Ask disabled passengers if they need any extra assistance due to the weather
  9. Be calm when dealing with upset passengers, arguments on the road increase the likelihood of an accident

Look after your vehicle! Cold and wet weather can damage your cab if you’re not careful. Make sure there aren’t any leaks and listen to your engine. If it doesn’t sound right, get it looked at as soon as possible.

Be sure to stay safe this winter, and be sure to check your local weather report daily for any important information!

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