The risks of “doing lifts”
The Times as recently highlighted the dangers of “doing lifts” , a social media trend where people with cars are connected to those looking for a lift somewhere - for an agreed fee. Sound familiar? Yes - it’s effectively a cab service.
The report can be found here.
The Times’ reported, that “18 Facebook groups with a total of more than 50,000 members where people advertised or sought “lifts” for cash from drivers without taxi or private hire licenses. Many lifts drivers are students and others are in their teens or twenties. They ferry people to and from clubs and house parties, taking their highest earnings on New Year’s Eve…Drivers and passengers often claim that licensed taxis are too expensive or are unavailable on busy nights but the police warn that clients risk travelling in unsafe or uninsured cars with drivers who could be sexual predators”.
There is some discourse around whether payment is for petrol and running costs, or whether it represents profits. Where a profit is made, there is a question of whether the driver is taxi touting / plying for hire. Where a driver is generating a profit from the trip this may also invalidate the car insurance policy.
But is it legal?
It is likely that the practice of “doing lifts” in the way described is unlawful. The question here is whether there is an illegal taxi service in operation.
There is no law against taking payment for fuel used - but you must be properly licensed to drive passengers in return for a fare.
The big issue here is public safety given the traveling public are getting lifts from strangers who are completely unscreened.
Drivers caught providing “lifts” in return for a fare are likely to be prosecuted and face a hefty fine and criminal record.
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