When people say they’ll “be there- rain, hail or shine” they don’t always mean it, do they? Freezing weather makes “getting there” pretty hard. And it becomes damn near impossible in the case of high-alert snow events as public transport shuts down and hazardous road conditions keep drivers off the road.
Taxis are often the last transport option available to get people safely home. If you’re a taxi driver you’ll no doubt know just how much these “get home” or “get there” trips mean to people. As a professional driver, you’ve got more experience to draw on when navigating snow and ice. Nevertheless, we all get a bit rusty at times. It’s worthwhile taking a few minutes to consider some winter driving tips for taxi drivers.
Read this guide to help you and your passengers enjoy safe trips in your taxi during the cold snap.
Safe Winter Driving Tips for Taxi Drivers- Before Your Shift
Being prepared is crucial to being safe on the road during treachorous weather conditions.
1. Winter tyres can dramatically improve stability on the roads during severe frost and low temperatures. Unlike regular tyres, winter tyres don’t harden in cold weather, which means they have better grip.
2. Winter tyres may be excessive if you’re in a location with infrequent snow and ice weather systems. Make sure your regular wheels are in good condition, including your spare tyre, and top up the air pressure to ensure optimum grip.
3. Check your car owner’s manual and find out if your vehicle has any safety assist technology like Electronic Stability Control (ESC) or Anti Lock Braking System (ABS). Educate yourself on how they can assist your driving in severe weather conditions.
4. Having an emergency car kit in your taxi is an important safety measure year round. This should include a hi-vis jacket, warning triangle, phone charger, food and water, a first aid kit, torch, tow rope, spare bulbs, spare fuel and, of course, a spare tyre. Specific to snowy weather, you’ll definitely need a window scraper and should also consider adding a shovel and car blankets.
5. Your own clothing is also important. Dress appropriately. Keep warm in thermals that allow ease of movement and think about what you’ve got on your feet. Is your footwear easy to drive in? Do you need a different pair of shoes to walk on snow and ice when you get out of your taxi?
6. Make sure you’re topped up on anti-freeze. Don’t use hot water to deice your windscreen as this can damage the window.
7. Remember to fully de-mist the inside of your car, and check you can see clearly through all mirrors before you set off for your first trip.
8. Beware of the glare! Blanketed snow and bright skies make it difficult to see. Sunglasses will help with this, and the added bonus is that you’ll also look cool!
Safe Winter Driving Tips for Taxi Drivers - On the Road
Once you’re on the road, it’s important to know how to react to conditions in the best way possible. Reducing your speed, braking far in advance, and using the right lights for visibility purposes are all crucial to protecting you and your passengers.
9. Reduce your speed.
10. Keep ample distance between you and other cars.
11. Use full beams when heavy snow arrives and fog lights when visibility is reduced to less than 100m will make sure you can see the road ahead
12. Slow down and allow more time to brake than you usually would.
13. Watch out for black ice. Black Ice is difficult to see. It’s almost transparent ice that often looks like a harmless puddle or is overlooked entirely. It commonly occurs in sheltered/shaded areas on roads, under trees and adjacent to high walls.
14. Stay focused and control how you brake if you find your cab skidding. When using anti-lock brakes remember to ‘Step, Stay and Steer'. Step on the pedal. Stay on the pedal. Steer around the obstacle.
15. Be extra vigilant of other vehicles - they may not all be following the same safe winter driving protocol as you.
16. Stay informed. Situations can deteriorate quickly during snow and ice storms. Stay abreast of developments by tuning into your radio or checking news apps and pay heed to the advice you are being given by officials.
Safe Winter Driving Tips for Taxi Drivers - Passenger Care
Your job is to help people get to where they need to go. This becomes more difficult in adverse snow and ice weather conditions. So, what can you do to keep your passengers safe, and meet their customer service expectations?
17. Snow and rain can mean that the inside of your cab can become wet and slippery. Keeping it clean and dry will ensure your passengers stay safe when entering and exiting the vehicle. Keep a towel close by so that you can dry the floor after every couple of fares to make sure no one slips on their way in or out.
18. It’s important to manage passenger expectations and to advise them of the safety measures you’re taking. You may take longer than usual to pick-up or deliver passengers to their destinations due to adverse weather conditions. Explain this so that they understand why.
19. Don’t allow passengers to rush you. You have their safety in mind, not to mention the fact that It’s your safety too.
20. Do your passengers need any extra assistance in the cold weather? You might not ordinarily do this, but think about each passenger’s needs. Could this one do with a hand getting in or out of the taxi?
Safe Winter Driving Tips for Taxi Drivers - Maintenance
Safe winter driving involves taking care of your car to the best of your ability. Cold and wet weather can take its toll on your car – so keeping an eye and an ear on your vehicle while driving will help you notice anything out of the ordinary.
21. Make sure you haven’t got any leaks
22. Listen to the sound of your engine
23. When in doubt, check it out. If you see any warning signs on the dash, it’s better to be safe and take it to an expert.
Got any winter driving tips to share with taxi drivers? Leave your advice in the comment box below. In the meantime, stay safe on the roads this winter.