While taking a cab is usually a safe travel option, it’s not entirely without risk. Whether you’re trekking abroad or commuting to work, make these five taxi safety tips a part of your routine to avoid any potential danger.
1. Make sure the cab is legit.
When you flag down a taxi, it’s important to make sure it’s legally registered. It’s highly recommended to avoid unmarked cabs, which are typically non-licensed and non-insured. Be sure that your taxi has a displayed taxi license, a meter, and a badge. Most cities have strict taxi regulations, so do research ahead of time to familiarize yourself with the appearance of local taxi licenses and medallions.
You can also call for a taxi rather than hailing one off the street. Find a reputable local company and save their number in your phone for emergencies. When you do book a ride, be sure to ask for the cab’s license plate number to ensure you get in the right vehicle.
2. Track your route on your phone.
You can use your phone’s map feature, or an app like BestRides, to follow your projected trip in real time and make sure you’re headed the right way. If it looks like your driver is going off-route, remind them of your destination and its direction.
3. Don’t overshare.
Courteous and casual chats are one thing, but you risk jeopardizing your safety when you share personal information with your driver. Revealing your full name, where you live, or even your level of familiarity with the area can put you in a potentially dangerous situation. If the driver presses for details, politely decline and change the subject.
4. Be aware of common scams.
Although most taxis are safe, cabbies can — and do — take advantage of their passengers. Some drivers will claim that their meter is broken and use that as an excuse to charge you double. When you first enter a cab, be sure to verify that it has a visible, functioning meter. If you don’t see one or the driver says it’s defective, leave the car and find another ride.
Even if the cab does have a working meter, some drivers will take the “scenic route” to artificially inflate your fare. It’s always smart to have a general idea of where you’re going and how to get there so you can catch any potential diversions on your trip. If you sense that your driver is going the long way, speak up and ask why. Sometimes they’re just trying to avoid rush hour traffic, but they could have a more sinister motive.
Sometimes the ride goes well and the fare is as expected, but issues arise when you try to pay at the end of the trip. If you pay with a large bill, the driver may claim he doesn’t have change in an attempt to keep the extra cash for himself. To avoid this, have smaller bills and coins on hand when traveling.
5. When in doubt, get out.
If you suspect that something is wrong, trust your intuition and take the first opportunity to end the ride. Whether your seatbelt isn’t working properly or the driver is making you uncomfortable, you have the right to leave the vehicle at any point during the trip. Your safety comes first, and it’s never worth risking it.
With the BestRides app, you can log your trip and track your route as you go — and alert your family and friends if anything goes wrong. Get BestRides for iOS or Android to guarantee your safety and peace of mind.