Visiting a new town can be a scary experience, especially if you're alone and completely unfamiliar with the place. Ensuring your personal safety is important when using cabs for transport, since you're basically trusting your well-being to someone you don't know.
Taxi drivers can be very helpful when you're in a new city: they know almost everything about local attractions, offices, safe and unsafe locations and times of travel. However, you should still take care to ensure you're not giving valuable information to someone who can jeopardize your safety. The following are some tips to help you with travelling in taxis when you're somewhere new:
Know the price and tipping range
You can ask your hotel's concierge about the typical price of cab rides and tipping amounts. In addition to this, you need to confirm the charge with the driver before getting on board. This way, you won't get in an argument once you get to your destination because of miscommunication. You can also ask the dispatcher sending you a cab about the price/metre rate.
Avoid hailing random taxis on the road
It may seem easier to just stand on the street and hail a taxi, but getting an independent taxi driver can be risky, especially once they discover you're new. While not all independent drivers are untrustworthy, it is easier for such drivers to collaborate with thieves – they'll take you somewhere deserted and steal your belongings.
The better option is to use a reputable taxi company in the area; ask the dispatcher to give you the name of the driver and the car number so that you can confirm before getting in. Also check if there's a metre, a radio through which the driver communicates with the dispatcher, and the driver's ID badge which should be prominently displayed. Confirm that there's an internal door handle on your side and that it isn't set to child-lock, so you can jump out if you need to when in danger.
Make a transport arrangement
If you like the cab driver sent to you, see if you can arrange with him/her to take you around on the rest of your trips. This way, you can avoid dealing with a stranger each time you need to leave the house/hotel.
Keep your belongings safe
Avoid reaching into your bags and displaying your valuables as much as you can. It's okay to have your phone out to do something while on your ride, but this isn't the time to fish out your expensive laptop or iPad and discuss that business deal you have in-the-works. Store them zipped up in your bag, and only have your phone close in case you need to make a call urgently.
Keep windows up and ride in the back
It's okay to be friendly and make conversation with a friendly driver, but always remember to have your guard up. Keep your windows up to avoid losing your valuables to a pick-pocket when you're stopped in traffic. Stay in the back so that you're less visible to both the driver and passers-by.
Don't take a cab alone and drunk
If you must go drinking alone and far from your hotel, arrange with the hotel concierge to send you a cab at a certain time. Avoid hailing or calling new cabs when you're drunk. With your senses dulled, you won't be able to assess the driver properly or defend yourself in case of trouble. What's more you may fall asleep in the back and be taken somewhere else and harmed.
For more information, contact professionals like United Taxis.