With the Christmas and New Year party season now well underway people are being asked to put their safety first when travelling home and only use licensed vehicles. South Ayrshire Council warns that flagging down an unlicensed or unmarked car could potentially leave people in uninsured cars with no clear idea of who's driving.
Licensed taxis all have a plate on the front and rear of the vehicle and a 'Taxi' roof light, while the driver should have a badge from South Ayrshire Council, with photograph and licence number. A taxi can be hired from a rank or hailed in the street as well as being pre-booked. The taxi will have a meter which will show the maximum fare the driver may charge and passengers should be aware that at certain times over the holidays the fares will be higher than normal.
A private hire car will also have plates front and rear and will have signs on the door 'Pre-booked hires only'. These vehicles cannot be hailed in the street and if the hire is not pre-booked then the vehicle may not be insured and should be avoided. Again the driver will have a badge with photograph and licence number. If there is a meter in the vehicle then it must be used. If there is no meter then the fare should be agreed at the time of booking.
Councillor Philip Saxton, Chair of the South Ayrshire Taxi and Private Hire Operators Forum, said that while it might be tempting to flag down a car in the street it made sense to know who you're dealing with, "In the next few weeks thousands of people will be enjoying Christmas nights out across South Ayrshire and we're sure the majority of people will be sensible and either join a taxi rank or pre-book a private hire to get them home safely.
"Drivers have been through a rigorous checking procedure while all vehicles operating in South Ayrshire are tested and inspected regularly to ensure that they're clean, mechanically sound, insured and, above all, safe for the travelling public.
"By reminding people to use their common sense and put their own personal safety first this Christmas, we hope that no-one finds themselves having a journey they'd rather forget."
If you have any concerns about your journey then you should note the vehicle number and contact the Council's civic licensing standards officer to discuss firstname.lastname@example.org 01292 617 647.