Safety warning over Christmas taxis

Christmas partygoers warned: Be safe, book your taxi home.

A new public safety campaign, urging revellers to be safe and pre-book their taxis, has been launched by Birmingham City Council as the Christmas party season begins.

Adverts are being broadcast on Capital FM, Free Radio and displayed on trains in and out of Birmingham stations until 3red January 2016, to remind people to check private hire drivers have their name before getting into the vehicle after a night out. Posters will also appear in local neighbourhoods in the run up to Christmas.

Pre-booking your taxi or private hire car before going out is the best way to make sure you get home safely. The public are warned never to flag down a private hire car in the street as the driver will commit an offence if he picks them up and – and you will not be insured for the journey in the event of an accident.

People who haven’t booked their ride home are urged to flag down a black cab or queue at one of the city’s two marshalled taxi ranks on Broad Street and Ladywell Walk, near the Arcadian complex.

During the party season, Birmingham City Council and West Midlands Police are keeping Christmas revellers safe by clamping down on private hire drivers who ply for hire and looking for unlicensed motorists posing as private hire drivers.

Cllr Barbara Dring, Chair of the city council’s Licensing and Public Protection Committee, said: “This is a very busy time when our bars, restaurants and clubs are packed with people enjoying themselves. Their evening should be memorable for all the right reasons – which is why we’re encouraging partygoers to pre-book a private hire car or use the marshalled ranks to ensure they have a safe journey.

“Taxi and private hire safety is a priority for our licensing department: this kind of activity is monitored all year round but it’s particularly important at peak times like Christmas and New Year. Birmingham has around 1,300 Hackney Carriage and 4,500 private hire drivers and vehicles – who must adhere to the high standards we set for them. If any of our licensed drivers fail to meet these in any way, we will take relevant legal steps to protect the public who use their services.”

Only Hackney Carriage vehicles can pick up fares on the street. Private hire drivers cannot accept passengers unless a booking has been made through their private hire operator.

Customers who get into private hire vehicles that have not been booked through an operator place themselves at risk because the driver’s insurance does not cover plying for hire.