A few weeks ago, a taxi driver who attacked a passenger with a meat cleaver was jailed for three years. The driver refused to give the victim change for his fare and began attacking him once the passenger reached for his ID to take down his name and licence number.
There have been several stories in the news about taxi drivers in the past few years that raised questions about passenger safety, such as a Meath driver being jailed this year for the sexual assault of a female passenger.
Recently, I was getting in a taxi at night time when two drivers got in a fight behind the car. One of them was an illegal driver and had snuck into the rank. Obviously the other driver wasn’t happy about that and the driver of the car I was in explained to me that the illegal drivers were ruining business.
He went on to talk about a few horror stories of some drivers locking doors on passengers when they wanted more money, sexual assault and hostile reactions with passengers who didn’t have enough money to pay the fare. He told me about ‘Driver Check’ which is an app by the government to ‘check’ the details of taxi drivers before getting in the car. You can download the app for free from the Apple store for iPhone and iPad, or Google Play store for Android devices.
The app allows you to check the licence details of taxis, hackneys or limousines and their drivers and report if details aren’t correct. You can also email the details of the taxi you’re in to a friend or family member. You can check this in several ways: Use the roof or door sign number on taxis, use the vehicle registration number, scan the QR code or use the driver identification number on the dashboard if you’ve already gotten inside the taxi.
After downloading the app, you will be asked to provide your name, email and a friend or family member’s email so that you can register. The app can be used in both rural and urban locations including Dublin, Cork, Galway, Limerick and Waterford. There is also a handy ‘history’ section that records all of your searches.
The app is extremely useful and stop many passengers feeling uneasy about their safety. Sometimes there are only a few taxis on the road, particularly at a very early hour, and at times you don’t really have an option but to take it to get home. However, safety is paramount and if you feel worried about getting in with a certain driver for whatever reason, you should check the licence details first.
The app also identifies illegal drivers so that they can be reported. Illegal drivers have been endangering the livelihoods of licenced drivers and plaguing them for years so it is important that the authorities are alerted whenever you come across one.
Here is a news report of the new app that gives more information and taxi drivers’ reactions: