The financial viability of professional drivers is greatly affected by gratuities and gratuities are directly impacted by customer service, attention to detail and a genuine concern for the safety of your passengers – so this month we are focusing on how to make the most of your shift and ensure your customers safely reach their destinations.

Accidents While Loading/Unloading Passengers

  • TLC regulations and New York State traffic laws state that “all FHVs and Taxis must load and drop off all passengers as close to the curb as possible.” If an opening is within a reasonable distance of loading area or unloading destination, drivers must use the opening and load or unload within 12 inches of the curb. This practice will not only ensure safe loading and unloading procedures but will keep traffic moving. It will also demonstrate your consideration of vehicles traveling adjacent and behind you. Always treat other motorists the way you would like to be treated.
  • Always pull into a passenger loading area without impeding traffic. Do not delay traffic when a passenger enters your vehicle at a red light. Be prepared to proceed, and pull over to the nearest curb space, if necessary. Delaying traffic can lead road rage incidents or rear-end collisions.
  • After loading your passenger, remind them that their safety is your primary concern, and let them know that when you arrive at their destination, you will open the door for them and assist them, when it is safe.
  • Try to make sure your passenger is seated on the side of the vehicle that will be the curb side at their destination (only applicable when you have a single passenger).
  • Always check all rearview and side-view mirrors prior to exiting your vehicle to assist a passenger. If you are not exiting your vehicle to assist them, ask them to please wait a moment while you check your mirrors before they depart to make sure it is safe.
  • Always assist the passenger to the sidewalk before you retrieve luggage or other items from the trunk.
  • When you are unloading the trunk, scan the area behind you first to ensure there are no vehicles approaching in an unsafe manner.
  • If you arrive for a radio dispatched passenger or respond to a street hail, wait for another FHV or Taxi loading at the curb to leave their spot, so you can pull into the vacated spot.
  • Try to avoid loading or unloading passengers or trunk items while your vehicle is double parked.
  • Do not leave cash or other valuables openly exposed in the front seat, while you are assisting a passenger, or attending to the trunk.

Guidelines for Passenger Relations

  • Obtain advanced knowledge of your passenger’s destination and discuss it with them.
  • Be diplomatic in representing yourself and your base or management company.
  • Avoid controversy.
  • Never argue with a passenger. They are your temporary employers. Let passengers vent; apologize when necessary.
  • Be professional and tactful at all times.
  • Remember: In addition to being a driver, you are also salesperson for your services, the base you represent and the services of all other drivers working professionally.

Conversational Etiquette

  • Politeness: Always say “please”, “thank you” and “you’re welcome”. You’ll be surprised how much of an impact these simple words can have on the tone of your trip.
  • Ask permission if you plan to play the radio or adjust the vehicle temperature.
  • Let passengers choose the topic of conversation or respect their right not to have one.
  • Learn to listen and listen to learn.
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Article by Bertram Merling

Bertram Merling is the Loss Control Coordinator for the Hereford Insurance Company.

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