Career and Job Search Guide

Taxi Driver and Chauffeur

Limousine and taxi services are very important in big cities. Chauffeurs and taxi drivers transport residents and tourists to their desired locations. Since tourists rely heavily on these services, some chauffeurs and drivers provide services where they take tourists to popular attractions.

Chauffeurs and taxi drivers must be very cautious and defensive drivers, being very careful in inclement weather and heavy traffic. They especially need to be careful to avoid sudden turns and stops to prevent traffic accidents and customer discomfort.

Before a shift starts, taxi drivers usually pick up a car from a taxicab service garage specifically assigned to them by a taxicab service company and record in a log their name, the taxi's I.D. number, and the date. They usually perform routine safety and maintenance inspections to make sure the vehicle is safe and in a drivable condition. If a driver notices and malfunctions or problems, he or she must contact the company's mechanic or dispatcher.

Taxi drivers find their customers from by around a certain block or street, also known as cruising, picking up customers after they call a taxi company, and stopping at prearranged stops known as taxi stands. In big cities, customers can a taxi by motioning to drivers on the street. If a customer needs a taxi at a specific time, he or she can call a taxi company, where a dispatcher will notify a driver. This is how people living in rural areas usually arrange for taxi service. Taxi drivers frequently pick up customers at hotels, airports, and restaurants.

Some taxi companies exclusively have drivers pick up customers at predetermined stops or have drivers spend their time cruising for customers. However, restrictions are sometimes placed on finding customers in affluent areas, such as areas where tourists or businesspeople congregate, so taxis can be made available to residents in poorer areas.

Experienced taxicab drivers are usually familiar with the best roads to take to reach locations that are regularly requested like airports, hotels, tourist attractions, sports arenas, and convention centers. They should also be familiar with the best routes to take to reach hospitals and police stations during emergencies.

Once drivers arrive at a customer's desired destination, they notify the customer of the taxi fee. Taxi fares are determined by the jurisdiction where taxicabs are licensed. Most taxies are equipped with taximeters, devices that determine fares based on distance traveled or the amount of time it took to reach a destination. Once passengers get into a taxi, drivers switch meters on and turn them off when they reach their location. Sometimes fares include fuel surcharges, toll fees, luggage fees, and flat rates added to each fare. Sometimes, taxi services base their fares on a system where passengers are charged for passing through designated zones.

Most customers riding taxies leave the driver with a tip, usually reflecting the level of service they received, once they have reached their destination. If a customer requests one, drivers provide him or her with a receipt that includes the fare and date. If a traffic accident occurs, a driver usually prepares an accident report.

Drivers who drive vehicles designed to accommodate people with physical disabilities or the elderly are known as paratransit drivers. These drivers do not need to be certified to provide these services, but they should have sufficient training to operate the equipment utilized in these vehicles.

Chauffeurs. Chauffeurs drive limousines and vehicles for government agencies and businesses and individuals who can afford their services. Chauffeur driven vehicles are different from taxies since chauffeured travel is scheduled. Chauffeurs move passengers in vans from airports to hotels and other transportation services such as bus stations. Some chauffeurs transport wealthy people in luxury vehicles or work for these people full time taking them wherever they need to go.

Before chauffeurs pick up their clients, they must inspect their vehicles for any potential minor mechanical problems and make sure the interior is clean. When a vehicle needs complex maintenance, a chauffeur will consult an automotive repair shop.

Chauffeurs often accommodate the needs of their wealthy clients by providing very good customer service. They often open doors for passengers and load their bags and luggage into vehicles. Chauffeurs often provide additional services to their clients such as picking up their business associates and delivering packages. Many chauffeured services cater to clients by providing newspapers, drinks, and television inside vehicles. Many chauffeurs, known as full service executive assistants, provide transportation and secretarial services to their clients.

Work environment. Often, chauffeurs and taxi drivers carry heavy luggage to and from their vehicles. Driving for hours on end can be tiring and uncomfortable, especially in a crowded city. Since taxi drivers often carry a lot of cash with them, they must be cautious to avoid areas being robbed. Vehicles with modern amenities are more comfortable to drive, and many regulatory agencies supervising chauffeured vehicle and taxi companies, mandate that all vehicles be equipped with air-conditioning. Many taxies are now built with fare meters, dispatching devices, and satellites linked devices that allow a company to track a car from its office. With this new technology, dispatchers can provide drivers with weather and traffic conditions. Many companies use their satellite linked technology to locate taxies nearest to customers that call to be picked up. This technology also enables drivers to contact dispatchers when their vehicles breakdown. Many vehicles are equipped with trouble lights designed to enable drivers to notify police when they are in danger.

Taxi drivers and chauffeurs work part or full time hours with set or fluctuating schedules. It is not uncommon for drivers to be called in to work with on a moment's notice. Those who work for a single client are usually on call 24 hours a day. Taxi drivers and chauffeurs frequently work nights and weekends. Clients usually determine work schedules for chauffeured companies, but taxi drivers' schedules are usually not set. Since taxi drivers are not directly supervised, they can stop for rest breaks when they do not have a customer in their vehicle. The independence offered by the job is enjoyed by many taxi drivers.

Many people like college students and others looking for second jobs decide to drive taxies. Those who drive ambulances or work as cops sometimes drive taxies for additional income.

Taxi drivers employed full-time usually work a daily 8-12 hour shift. Those working part-time often work one shift a week. There are numerous shifts drivers can work since taxi services are usually provided during all hours of the day. Demand for taxies increases during weekends, holidays, and special events. Those who own their own taxies determine their schedules.