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Dunedin taxi users are being urged to prioritise their safety before accepting cheap fares from social media-based taxi schemes.
Police say they have received complaints from members of the public who thought they were using a legally operating service, but found themselves in unsafe and "risky" situations.
NZ Transport Agency compliance manager Kelvin Lloyd said many people used the Dunedin Sober Drivers Facebook page for late night or early morning journeys.
But many of those drivers had not passed an important vetting process and some did not have safe vehicles, he said.
Regulated taxi drivers must hold a small passenger service licence (SPS), which gives the holders the legal right to carry passengers for money, subject to conditions.
Crucially, those taxi drivers had to pass a police vetting process before they could receive their SPS licence, Mr Lloyd said.
"This can provide some reassurance to the public that the licensed driver taking you home has passed the fit and proper test."
People should check that all of those safety systems were in place before committing to a ride.
“Is the person who they say they are? Check their ID.
"Do they have a small passenger service licence and a certificate of fitness displayed on the vehicle?” he said.
Road Policing Centre national director Superintendent Steve Greally said using a taxi, Uber or other small passenger services was a great alternative to drink-driving.
"But at the end of the night, be careful not to get into an illegally operating SPS," he said.
"If they aren’t properly licensed don’t get in.
"Having a licence means the driver and their car are safe."
A police spokeswoman confirmed that police had received complaints from members of the public who used what they thought was a legally operating small passenger service, only to find themselves in an unsafe and risky situation.
That included instances where the price was excessively increased from what would be a normal fare.
"These complaints are not isolated to any one district."
Police were working with NZTA to help identify and remove illegal operators from communities, the spokeswoman said.
• Keep safe by staying together; don’t let your friends go off alone.
• Share a ride home, just make sure it is a licensed, safe operator.
• Check if the driver’s photo ID, SPS and CoF (certificate of fitness) is visible.
• Agree on a price before you get in. They must also give you a receipt.
• Make sure your phone is charged before heading out so you can keep in touch with friends and family throughout your ride home.
• Share these messages to your friends so they know their rights and can be safe at night and after parties.
- Source: Police and NZTA