Disabled passengers and the Law
As a taxi driver, it’s your duty to provide a suitable service for all passengers, which can be tricky in cases where a passenger may have a disability. Whilst guidelines can vary slightly from area to area, it is imperative that taxi drivers do not discriminate against or unfairly treat differently abled passengers.
Overcharging a passenger who may require assistance can land a driver with a hefty fine, while refusing a fare could equally be troublesome and could give reasonable grounds for official complaints. It is, therefore, good practice to be as flexible as possible to make ‘reasonable adjustments’ for those who need the help.
So what can you do to facilitate for handicapped passengers? Here, we mainly focus on two areas of disability:
With no nationwide standards set by the government, individual local authorities establish policies for wheelchair accessibility. In some major cities, licensed taxis like larger cabs should be able to accommodate passengers in wheelchairs.
For taxis and minicabs, drivers should be able to make what are considered to be ‘reasonable adjustments’ for assisting passengers. This includes helping them into and out of the vehicle, as well as making any necessary seating adjustments to provide for a comfortable journey.
Blind and deaf passengers
Assistance dogs accompanying blind or deaf passengers must always be allowed to travel in taxis or minicabs, providing the dog wears its harness or identification jacket. In cases where contact with or close proximity to dogs could affect a driver’s health, it’s possible to apply for an exemption certificate, which should be displayed in your windscreen.
Many black cabs in major cities should also be fitted with an induction loop for hearing aid users, providing a much more comfortable passenger experience for the hard of hearing.
It’s extremely rare nowadays to see any drivers delivering poor service to disabled travellers. With many firms including disability awareness in their standard training, most drivers are able to provide adequate passenger care to those who need it.