Taxis: Are they really safe?
Lucy Singleton questions the safety of getting back from the club.
Safety on nights out: a topic that has recently become close to my heart.
It has been made very clear to all of us that walking home alone after a night out is a no go. Particularly if you are a lone girl. Exeter University has exerted many efforts into ensuring students’ safety, listing getting a taxi home as the preferable action.
However, due to a recent experience, I feel it imperative to state that whilst taxis are safer than walking home alone, they are not completely safe. Girls (and boys) in taxis need just as much awareness; essentially being locked in a car with no escape leaves you vulnerable.
On a night out a few weeks ago, my friend and I got into a taxi after an arrangement made with the driver that he would get us back to my house for eleven pounds. The taxi driver appeared safe, engaging us in friendly conversation.
However, upon arriving in my village, he promptly ‘forgot’ our verbal agreement and demanded an extra five pounds, claiming that along the way I had agreed to this. Trying to prey on our vulnerability – as we remained locked in his car after having had a few drinks – is a method confirmed by the police to be used regularly within the taxi community.
Whilst this alone is a shocking revelation that must be emphasised to young people, that a verbal agreement can just as easily be taken back as made, it was what happened next to my friend and I that needs to be prevented.
Indicating our irritation of being taken for a ride (excuse the pun), I rang my parents at 3am asking them to come out and pay the extra charge. Except the taxi driver never gave us a chance.
He locked the doors and drove off with us still in the car, threatening us with the police and more. Although the driver was evidently an idiot, not realising that taking two, now hysterical, girls against their will to the police would only reflect badly on himself, it was still a very frightening experience.
Eventually, he realised the severity of the situation that he had got himself into, grabbed the money we had, pushed us out of the car and left us on the side of the road in the middle of nowhere. Thankfully, I was lucky enough to be near enough home to have my parents come along and get us.
However, at university this is not an option. There are no parents to ferry us around and save the day.
As a personal experience, I wanted to warn young people that this could happen to anyone. Despite the two of us feeling completely safe in that car, we weren't. Luckily my friend and I were fine. But, the ordeal served as a clear warning that you can no longer completely trust a verbal agreement with a taxi driver. Usual methods of flirting the fare down held consequences that could have ended dangerously.
So, students of Exeter, next time you get in a taxi, even if you try and barter the fare down, ensure you have more money elsewhere, especially if you are at home.
This isn’t an article discouraging taxis; nine times out of ten taxi drivers are completely reasonable and only there for your safety. But as my experience has indicated to me, always be prepared and always ensure that someone knows you are in the taxi. Stay smart, stay safe.