Ladies – Be in the driver seat about who drives you home
Driving home after a night of drinking and partying is illegal and life-threatening. Choosing the wrong driver to do it for you can be just as perilous warns 1st for Women Insurance.
The company’s managing director, Robyn Farrell, says women must be careful about whose car they get into.
“Catching an unlicensed taxi cab is not recommended. If you are going to be using a taxi service, pre-book your journey with a reputable firm and never wave-down a cab on the spur of the moment in the street,” she says.
In the last decade, the number of taxi cabs on South Africa’s roads has mushroomed. South Africans also have at their disposal a growing list of companies that they can phone to pre-book a taxi when we’re venturing out and don’t want to drink and drive.
Here, just as in many other countries however, there is a burgeoning number of unlicensed, unregulated drivers plying a trade from ferrying people to and from where they want to be. As the drivers aren’t regulated, they aren’t under any obligation to maintain their vehicles, and charge what they want – often astronomical fares.
“When you get into an unlicensed taxi cab, you have no guarantee that the driver has a driver’s license and the un-roadworthiness of the vehicle is almost a certainty. The driver is also probably not insured for the purposes of ferrying people.
“On a more sinister level, you are also essentially getting into a vehicle with a complete stranger. If anything had to wrong, such a dispute over fare or if the driver’s behavior is unsavory or offensive, where could you turn to identify the driver or complain?” asks Farrell.
In the United Kingdom, unlicensed minicabs are touted a major safety concern, particularly for women, with close to 150 reported cab-related sexual offences occurring each year.
This prompted Transport for London to implement a hard-hitting campaign “Safer Travel at Night” to deter people, especially women, from using them. The campaign, though controversial, has been successful in reducing cab-related sexual offences, a 37% reduction since 2002/3 and reducing the demand for illegal cabs. The latest market research shows that the proportion of women using illegal cabs in London has fallen from 19% in 2003 to 3% in 2011.
In South Africa, as in the UK and anywhere else in the world where there are lots of unregulated, unlicensed cabs in operation, Farrell advises women to pre-book their journey with a reputable cab company.
To drive on a public road transporting passengers for an income in South Africa, a driver must have a professional driving permit (PrDP). A person can only obtain a PrDP if they have a valid driving licence for the type of vehicle in question; have been certified as medically fit by a doctor, have never had their driver’s licence suspended, and do not have a criminal record against their name for the past five years.
“When you use a reputable cab service, such as Cabs for Women, you are assured that your trip is carried out by a licensed, insured driver and vehicle,” says Farrell.
She also offers these safety tips:
- When your cab arrives, check that it is yours by asking the driver to confirm your name and destination before you get in the car.
- Check the driver’s ID.
- Sit in the back of the car.
- Carry your cellphone in case of an emergency.
- Make sure you have informed a friend of the name of the taxi service you are using.
1st for Women Insurance is a proud sponsor of Cabs for Women and since 2009, 1st for Women policyholders have received a 5% discount on their taxi fare when travelling with Cabs for Women.
Cabs for Women is a metered cab service owned by women – and driven only by women. All its cab drivers have professional driving permits; have training in defensive driving techniques; are skilled in anti-hijacking techniques and have undergone basic first aid training. All Cabs for Women vehicles are fitted with GPS tracking so passengers know where they are and where they are going, and every taxi is equipped with a taxi metre so that pricing is transparent and consistent.