Taking taxis in many countries is an activity fraught with risks. In most locations the safest option if you need to use taxis as opposed to dedicated prearranged transport is to use a radio-call taxi or a taxi set-up by a hotel or restaurant. Getting into taxis on the street can open you up to everything from minor theft – such as over-charging to serious, potentially violent crime.
A common modus operandi in many cities around the world is for a taxi driver to pick you up and then drive you to a secluded area where his colleagues jump into the back seat with you — usually one on each side — and rob you. This can escalate to an express kidnapping as well if they choose to abduct you and drive you to an ATM machine to withdraw money. In more serious cases there is the risk of serious assault, rape or murder.
Therefore hailing street taxis should be avoided and in many locations caution should be used when using any taxis.
- Never get in a taxi that already has any other passengers in it. In some countries taxi drivers will try to pick up multiple fares. If this customary in your location tell the driver you want a “private taxi” and if necessary pay extra.
- Sit directly behind the driver. This might seem weird or awkward but its very difficult for the driver to control you when you are in this position and its very easy for you to control him should the situation require you to.
- Lock doors and roll up the windows. This should be pretty standard practice when traveling in a vehicle in the developing world anyway — even more so when in a taxi.
- Be alert to pedestrians on either side of the vehicle when stopped – either in traffic, at a red light, etc. Be prepared to exit the vehicle quickly if someone should try to get in. Also watch for signs of any communication or signaling between the driver and pedestrians or people in other vehicles.
- Don’t accept food, drink or chewing gum if offered by the driver. In some crimes involving taxis the passenger has been drugged as a precursor to a robbery or sexual assault.