August 18, 2010
Drive to make London a safer place.
Taxi drivers across the country including London’s most famous black cabbie, Mitch Winehouse are gearing up for the launch of a new text messaging service to combat the lack of taxi safety.
SaferTaxi aspires to fight minicab and taxi crime by offering a platform where users register their rides, rate their experiences and share safety information about their driver and journey. SaferTaxi applies the user generated hotel and restaurant rating concept to the taxi industry. By registering rides and using customer feedback, SaferTaxi empowers customers and makes journeys safer, more convenient and more enjoyable.
Mitch Winehouse said “As a taxi driver it’s easy to understand the benefits that SaferTaxi delivers and I would encourage anyone concerned about safety to join up. We are trying to create a safer taxi environment and would urge people to use the service.”
There is strong evidence linking bogus cab drivers and the rise of sex attacks. Last year there were *140 reported sexual assaults by illegal minicab drivers in London. The Metropolitan Police Service and other agencies are working to eradicate the problem of illegal cabs, but acknowledge there are still some out there.
There are an estimated *30,000 unlicensed cab drivers operating across the UK, and it’s thought that over *5,000 women are attacked by them every year. According to The Havens, Centre for Rape Victims, 20% of women get into taxis without even checking whether they are licensed. SaferTaxi launches at a time that sees an influx of graduates and tourists to the Capital, many of whom are unfamiliar with London’s late night travel options.
Ann Elledge, Director of Personal Safety for Suzy Lamplugh Trust said: “Suzy Lamplugh Trust is happy to support any initiative that improves the personal safety of the general public and the idea behind SaferTaxi would certainly appear to do that, as well as encouraging people to think about their safety. We will be closely monitoring how this initiative progresses and hope that the general public use the service and use it responsibly.”
Sarah Coates, Campaign Leader of the Hail Safer Campaign added “Current laws state that taxi drivers can have criminal backgrounds. While the majority of Taxi drivers are decent and honest people, SaferTaxi is a scheme that can help prevent people getting into a wrong taxi. We support this scheme fully and hope that everyone who travels in a taxi uses SaferTaxi.”
The aim of the service is to ensure people in the country get home safely by making drivers accountable. The pioneering text message service allows the user to text the registration number before entering the vehicle and a record is created at www.SaferTaxi.com.
The registration with SaferTaxi acts as a prevention mechanism, as the driver now knows that by registering his car the user left a trace. This system of accountability will encourage the best and safest driver behaviour. As a second mechanism the taxi registration number is immediately compared against reported incidents and the rating database.
The user will receive instantly a text message with the details of any previous reported incidents and a rating for the car. The immediate response will enable passengers to make an informed decision on whether to enter the car, stay in the car or to leave. Once the ride is over the user has the option to rate the journey (via mobile or online). In addition, users can chose to activate the DoubleSafety option on a registration by registration basis whereby a text message needs to be sent confirming a safe arrival. Failure to send this second text message within one hour of the ride registration will result in the user’s designated emergency contact being notified about the time and registration number of the last taken vehicle.
The DoubleSafety service helps parents, husbands, wives and friends to make sure that their loved ones get home safely. The SaferTaxi service can be used without registering online, however, to activate the DoubleSafety option passengers first need create an account with the details of the emergency contact. Customers can choose to pay-as-you-go (50p per message) or pay £3.99 a month for member subscription which allows unlimited usage. To try out the service, SaferTaxi offers the first month for free when signing up.
The new service, the first of its kind is also launching in Buenos Aries and New York with plans to roll it out across the world. SaferTaxi offers customers a service to register, receive instant feedback and rate taxi rides and is currently being promoted across London in pubs, clubs, women’s organisations, black cabs and minicab companies. SaferTaxi also helps passengers recover lost items; there are over 12,500 laptops, iPods and memory sticks left in taxis every year in the capital.
To arrange an interview with SaferTaxi’s team or receive more information about the company, please contact Siobhan O’Connor at Taylor Herring PR – 0208 206 5151
Notes to Editors
SaferTaxi was founded by a team of international entrepreneurs from Harvard Business School and The Wharton School, who are supported by an accomplished group of advisors with broad experience in venture capital, technology and academia. SaferTaxi has been selected for inclusion in the Wharton Venture Initiation Program, a start-up incubator at The Wharton School, and has also been awarded the Rock/Lebor Entrepreneurial Fellowship from Harvard Business School.
SaferTaxi is currently operational in London and Buenos Aires and plans to further expand to major cities in the US and Latin America. For more information please visit www.safertaxi.com or join the community on Facebook.
*Research stats sourced from Transport for London, The Havens, Centre for Rape Victims (Jan-2010), www.taxiwise.com