There are some horrifying statistics surrounding unlicensed minicabs: 5000 British women are attacked each year by the drivers, but 20 per cent of the UK's female population still get in a taxi without checking whether they're licensed or not. It's a massive problem, and one that needs to be addressed on numerous levels.
Safertaxi is a new service that could help. It uses user-feedback to create a database of taxi reviews, helping to sort the wheat from the chaff in the cab world. When customers have had a ride, good or bad, they are encouraged to log on to the online portion of the service at www.safertaxi.com, and leave their feedback on that particular ride - including, vitally, the driver's registration number.
Then, before entering a taxi, users can text the registration number to SaferTaxi, which will immediately respond with the current ratings in the database and any reported incidents. In addition, that ride will then be logged with the service so that, should anything go wrong, there is a record of the journey. The company hopes that it will act as a deterrent.
Also, a DoubleSafety scheme for registered users asks for a text message to be sent after the journey, otherwise an emergency contact number will be alerted.
To help promote the service, SaferTaxi has employed Mitch Winehouse, father of songstress Amy and professional cab driver: "As a taxi driver it’s easy to understand the benefits that SaferTaxi delivers and I would encourage anyone concerned about safety to join up", he said. "We are trying to create a safer taxi environment and would urge people to use the service".
Additionally, Sarah Coates, campaign leader of the Hail Safer Campaign stated, "current laws state that taxi drivers can have criminal backgrounds. While the majority of Taxi drivers are decent and honest people, SaferTaxi is a scheme that can help prevent people getting into a wrong taxi. We support this scheme fully and hope that everyone who travels in a taxi uses SaferTaxi".
The service is available on a Pay-As-You-Go basis, costing 50p per message (plus standard rate), or £3.99 per month for membership, which includes unlimited texts. Both are covered by DoubleSafety monitoring.
Further details on the number to text, and membership sign up are also available on SaferTaxi's website.