20.03.2023 • Krystian Rolka
How to drive the app taxi safely?
As soon as you start providing a taxi service, your mileage skyrockets and you’ll be spending a lot more time in traffic. You’ll start driving around total strangers, which means that sooner or later you’ll have to start thinking about mitigating the risks. I have put down some thoughts on how to make your app taxi rides as safe for yourself as possible.
Speeding taxis are a thing of the past. Over the last decade, traffic load has increased significantly on Estonian roads and traffic management has gotten so much better that it’s highly unlikely you’ll get anywhere faster even when you break the traffic laws. The impatient lane weavers simply get to the next traffic light faster and after that it’s pretty much just a matter of luck anyway. No one can possibly predict whether any of the vehicles in front of them will miss the light change or if any of the cars suddenly decide to make a turn, slowing down the whole lane, etc.
The same goes for vehicle safety equipment. Just like there’s no point in violating the traffic laws to get somewhere faster, there’s really no reason to ignore the car’s safety equipment. I refuse to drive passengers who don’t fasten their seatbelts or don’t have an appropriate child safety seat with them. The lap of a parent does not qualify as an appropriate seat. And I never take on more passengers than my car can safely carry. I simply don’t want to take on the responsibility in case the worst case-scenario really does happen and I contribute to the traffic accident statistics column.
Choose when you drive
Every day I encounter some new situation in traffic, despite the fact that I’m probably a more experienced road user than an average driver in Estonia. The rush-hour traffic is bustling with all sorts of drivers and not all of them are equipped to handle new situations or unexpected maneuvers by others. Being stuck in traffic is stressful for all parties involved. It’s also not very cost-effective for business as I would much rather spend time on new orders than burn fuel by inching forward. You just have to be that much more careful to stay in one piece and keep your car in good condition as well.
It is definitely worth analyzing which areas are profitable and safe during rush hours. Electric cars are certainly more economical and sustainable in traffic jams than cars that run on diesel fuel or natural gas. And it is more profitable to drive for a platform that also takes into account the time spent in traffic jams when calculating your pay.
The revamped dashboard of the Cachet app gives you a good overview of your habits and traffic safety. Check it out in the app!
Give feedback about the customers
Driving strangers around is not for everyone and you are bound to meet some unpleasant customers. In order to reduce rides with passengers who are annoying, malicious or unintentionally damage your car, I recommend you give honest feedback about each customer after every ride. This way, both you and your colleagues will be able to accept or reject orders based on the customer’s rating in the future.
In order to avoid any claims and disputes, be sure to check the correctness of the cash you get from the customer straight away as it is very difficult to prove anything afterwards. There are many “your word against mine” types of situations in the app taxi business and if you happen to accept counterfeit money, you tend to lose the disputes that follow.
Moreover, all ride-hailing platforms take your comments into account when determining whether to let some troublesome customer keep using the platform or not. If you have ever had a bone to pick with a customer, then you already know that Customer Support adds the driver’s account of the story under the customer’s profile on the app. We as drivers can only win from giving feedback.
Your car is your fortress
To ensure my own safety, I always keep the car doors locked, make sure that I’ve picked up the right person before I start the ride, and if the customer seems unpleasant or dangerous, I simply drive away. For me it is important to make driving the taxi as safe as possible for myself. And to be honest, every time I deem it necessary to drive away from a customer, they always end up punching or kicking my car. But this is already an insurance issue.
I also end prematurely every ride where the customer starts raging on the back seat or violating the car. I stop the car somewhere I consider safe, with many pairs of eyes or cameras on us, put on a handbrake, grab the keys, get out of the car, and take the dispute outside. It’s also a good idea to use a dash cam to record what’s going on in the car.
Kaspar the Driver