Wolverhampton Council bosses have launched a 'Get Home Safe' campaign to warn late-night city goers – especially new students in the area – to be careful when booking or flagging down taxis and private hire vehicles in the city centre.
The campaign focuses on making sure members of the public are aware of the differences between hiring private hire cars and black hackney cabs on the street.
It aims to educate people not to be fooled by pirate drivers pretending to be legitimate taxi drivers. The campaign focuses on the risks involved in taking an unlicensed vehicle.
In a report to members, licensing services manager for the council, Chris Howell, said: “Private hire vehicles must be pre-booked and not flagged down. Hackney carriage vehicles can be flagged down in the street.
“However, people need to be aware that it is an offence for a private hire driver to ply for trade on the street.
“In most cases, passengers travelling in an un-booked private hire vehicle will not be insured. Therefore, this greatly increases the risk to the public.
“Also, as the journey is not booked on the operator’s system, no-one else is aware that a journey is taking place – which potentially puts the passengers at a significant increase of risk.
“At the end of an evening out, most often people just want to get home as quickly as possible and do not always think about the dangers of not pre-booking a private hire vehicle,” he added.
“In addition to this, some people’s judgement may be impaired because of drink or drugs. And a lot of younger people may not even be aware pre-booking is a requirement these days.”
The council’s campaign is mainly being targeted at students in the city and will run during "freshers’ week", starting on 22 September.
A number of stalls promoting the venture have already been hired at the intake student fairs being held in Wolverhampton, Walsall and Telford.
These will contain information on how to book a private hire vehicle or flag down a Hackney cab safely, along with a range of the council’s branded Get Home Safe merchandise.
A poster has also been designed to promote the campaign, which will be displayed inside all licensed premises in the city centre during the week.