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Tips for safe taxi travel in your wheelchair

 Meeting your driver

  • Greet your taxi driver with a smile! Ask the driver their name and if you feel comfortable doing so, offer your first name

  • If you can, note the licence plate number and registration number of the taxi and record it somewhere (perhaps into your mobile phone) - it will be useful when either recommending the driver or warning other users and also if you wish to register a complaint

Getting into the taxi

  • State very clearly how you wish to be treated as you board the vehicle e.g. "I am able to push myself into the taxi, but please stand behind me just in case I get stuck" or "Please would you push me up the ramp into the taxi?"
  • Always ask the taxi driver to use the ramps. Avoid being tipped up backwards and bumped into the vehicle.

Once in the taxi

  • Ensure that if necessary (and in most London Black Cab type taxis, TX, Fairway or Metro it will be) the rear seat on the kerbside/nearside of the vehicle is tipped up and secured to ensure space for the wheelchair to be turned to face backwards
  • Remove any bags or shopping that have been hanging from the frame of your wheelchair. Excess weight can place an undue strain on the balance of the wheelchair
  • In a small minibus/MPV which has tracking on the floor to secure the wheelchair, always check that the front webbing is fitted parallel and that the rear webbing is properly tightened
  • Ensure that the webbing straps securing your wheelchair are secured to the frame of your wheelchair - not on the footplates, armrests or other removable equipment
  • If you are unhappy with the stability of the wheelchair, say so and get the driver to readjust or reapply the webbing correctly - your wheelchair should not be able to rock or wobble in any direction. Take a photograph with your mobile phone if necessary
  • Never, ever accept travelling facing sideways under any circumstances, even if the taxi driver says - "it'll be alright, we aren't going far". A short distance is never an excuse for cutting corners
  • Please ensure you use a seatbelt - a posture belt attached to your wheelchair to prevent you slipping out of it will rarely have been crash tested to the required standards
  • When offered a seatbelt ensure you are offered both a lap and a diagonal belt. A lap belt alone offers poor protection in an emergency stop. Ensure that the diagonal part of the seatbelt is positioned so it cannot slip down your arm (usually positioned between the handles of your wheelchair will prevent it from slipping down)
  • Ensure that the lap belt is positioned across the lap, where the pelvis/hipbones are - your pelvis is a very strong bone - not over your stomach which could cause severe internal bleeding into the abdomen in the event of either an emergency stop or a collision
  • Ask the driver to take extra care over road humps and corners because, in your wheelchair, you will feel every lump and bump and camber as you are travelling.

Getting out of the taxi

  • On leaving the taxi at your destination, you may prefer to exit backwards down the ramp with the taxi driver behind you - a much safer (though slightly less dignified) way to emerge, which will reduce the risk of accidents.

Good driver?

  • If you have had an attentive driver who has given you a comfortable, safe and enjoyable journey, then do say so - everyone likes to be appreciated for a job well done, even though they are being paid to do so.

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