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New research reveals more than two out of five passengers felt UNSAFE in unlicensed taxis


More than two out of five passengers have felt unsafe while travelling in unlicensed taxis or private hire vehicles, new research from technology firm Alfi shows.


Alfi, a company which provides taxis and ride-sharing vehicles with screens that can provide passengers with a range of services including important information from travel updates to local and international news, as well as revenue sharing opportunities with drivers and operators, says its study found 42% of customers using unlicensed taxis have at some stage felt at risk during the journey and that increases to nearly half of female customers compared to 38% of male passengers.

Passengers’ biggest cause for concern while travelling in unlicensed taxis was fearing that the car was dangerous. Around 41% who have felt unsafe in unlicensed taxis and private hire vehicles said it was because they were not roadworthy, while 31% said it was because they were concerned about the drivers’ skills.


But the behaviour of drivers was also a cause for concern – 27% said the driver flirted with them or made an unwelcome pass, while 24% said the driver seemed very tired and 22% worried the driver was drunk and aggressive. Around 20% said the driver didn’t seem to know where they were going.


Alfi says the prevalence of unlicensed taxis is a major concern. Its research shows around one in 10 adults (11%) – the equivalent of 5.8 million people across the UK - have used unlicensed taxis in the past five years. The main reason for people using them is convenience and desperation to get to their destination.

Around a third of people (31%) who’ve travelled in unlicensed taxis say they did so because it was very convenient, while 30% say they needed to get to their destination. Around 16% say unlicensed taxis were cheaper while 12% couldn’t book a licensed taxi. Around 11% admit it was because they were drunk and couldn’t get a licensed taxi.


The research was conducted by independent research company Consumer Intelligence among 1,039 adults aged 18-plus weighted to represent the demographic profile of the UK between 4-7 June 2021.


Kevin Buchler, Vice President- UK Operations, Alfi said: “It is worrying that so many people have felt unsafe using unlicensed taxis and particularly that so many women using them felt at risk.


“Licensed taxis provide a vital service, and their drivers can be trusted to be professional and provide a safe journey. It can be tempting to hail an unlicensed taxi if it’s cheaper and you’re desperate, but it is always safer to rely on licensed taxis.”

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