Taxi cabs are very safe forms of transportation, and even in the midst of crazy New York City traffic, there are fewer accidents involving taxi cabs than there are involving all other vehicles combined. Don't take that statistic for granted, though, as safety while on the road should be a priority whether you are behind the wheel or in the back seat of a taxi service. While a large part of keeping you safe is in the hands of your taxi driver, follow these tips to help your driver provide you a safer ride.
1. Keep Chit-chat to a Minimum
If you are on vacation and the first local you meet is the taxi driver taking you from the airport to your hotel, you may be eager to ask the driver lots of questions, like what the best local restaurants really are or what must-see sites you should make a priority to see during your trip.
When speaking to your taxi driver while he or she is driving, you are providing a distraction, and distracted driving is one of the largest traffic hazards today. Your driver likely won't tell you to stop asking questions, because he or she wants to be polite.
Since taxi drivers can be great resources of information, instead of hammering your driver with questions during your ride, wait until the cab is stopped and you are at your final destination. Then, while the cab is idling, ask your questions. Sure, the few extra minutes chatting may cost you a dollar or two on the meter, but the valuable information the cab driver provides you is worth much more than that. Your safety is also priceless.
2. Know Where You Are Going
When in a new city, no cab driver expects you to have turn-by-turn directions to where you are headed. However, you should have a final address or local well-known attraction or landmark in mind. With that information at the start of your trip, your driver can then form the safest, quickest route to your final destination using his or her GPS and knowledge of local roads and traffic patterns.
Once you tell your driver where you want to go, don't change your mind mid-trip unless there is a true emergency that arises during the ride. Not only does this change in destination distract your driver from the road as he or she must form a new travel plan in the midst of driving, but he or she may then have to make a U-turn, which although legal in some places, is still considered one of the most dangerous driving maneuvers.
If you don't know where you want to go yet, then wait to hail your cab. Having a clear idea of where you are headed is important to the safety of you and your driver.
3. Don't Ask a Driver to Bend Passenger Number Rules
If you are traveling with a large group of people, and the first cab you attract when hailing is a small sedan, then don't try to convince the driver to let you all "squeeze" into the sedan. This request puts the taxi driver in an awkward position, as drivers don't want to create unhappy customers, but they also don't want to put everyone in danger by packing the car too tightly.
Squeezing more people into a vehicle than it is designed for is dangerous for everyone, and it is unnecessary when many taxi companies provide larger vans on request that can fit more passengers.
When possible, call the taxi company ahead of time and simply ask for a large van to be sent to your pick-up spot that can fit everyone in your group safely. If you need a last-minute ride and can't call ahead, then split your group into two and take two sedans.
Remember that although taxi cabs provide safe transportation in even the busiest, traffic-laden areas of the country, you must do your part to help your taxi driver keep you safe. Follow these taxi-cab safety tips, and you can then enjoy your vacation instead of going home with a "vacation disaster story" to tell after being involved in an accident that you helped cause.