Taxi drivers and chauffeurs drive people to and from the places they need to go, such as homes, workplaces, airports, and shopping centers. They must know their way around a city in order to take both residents and visitors to their destinations.
Taxi drivers and chauffeurs typically do the following:
- Drive taxicabs, limousines, company cars, or privately owned vehicles to transport passengers
- Pick up passengers and listen to where they want to go
- Help passengers load and unload their luggage
- Obey all traffic laws
- Collect fares, including allowed extra charges
- Check the car for problems and do basic maintenance
- Keep the inside and outside of their car clean
- Operate wheelchair lifts when needed
- Keep a record of miles traveled
Taxi drivers and chauffeurs must stay alert and monitor the conditions of the road. They have to take precautions to ensure their passengers’ safety, especially in heavy traffic or bad weather. Taxi drivers and chauffeurs must also follow all vehicle-for-hire or livery regulations, such as where they can pick up passengers and how much they can charge.
Good drivers are familiar with the streets in the areas they serve. They choose the most efficient routes, considering the traffic at that time of day. They know where the most frequently requested destinations are, such as airports, train stations, convention centers, hotels, and other points of interest. They also know where to find fire and police stations and hospitals in case of an emergency.
Taxi drivers, also called cab drivers or cabbies, generally use a meter to determine the fare when a passenger requests a destination. Many customers request a cab by calling a central dispatcher who then tells the taxi driver the pickup location. Some drivers pick up passengers waiting in lines at cabstands or in the taxi line at airports, train stations, and hotels. In some large cities, cabbies drive around the streets looking for passengers, although this is not legal in all cities.
Ride-hailing drivers pick up passengers who request service through a smartphone app. The fare rate can fluctuate depending on demand, however passengers are notified if the current fare rate is higher than usual. Passengers pay for the ride through a credit card that is linked to the app. Drivers use their own private vehicles and set their own hours.
Chauffeurs take passengers on prearranged trips. They operate limousines, vans, or private cars. They may work for hire for single trips or they may work for a person, a private business, or for a government agency. Customer service is important for chauffeurs, especially luxury car drivers. Some do the duties of executive assistants, acting as driver, secretary, and itinerary planner. Other chauffeurs drive large vans between airports or train stations and hotels.
Paratransit drivers transport people with special needs, such as the elderly or those with disabilities. They operate specially equipped vehicles designed to help people with a variety of needs in nonemergency situations. For example, their vehicles may be equipped with wheelchair lifts, and the driver helps a passenger with boarding.
Most taxi drivers and chauffeurs go through a brief training period. Many states and local municipalities require them to get a taxi or limousine license. Clean driving records and background checks are sometimes required. No formal educational credential is typically required, although many taxi drivers and chauffeurs have a high school degree.
No formal educational credential is typically required, although many taxi drivers and chauffeurs have a high school degree.
Most taxi and limousine companies provide their new drivers with a short period of on-the-job training. This training usually takes from 1 day to 2 weeks, depending on the company and the location. Some municipalities require training by law.
Training typically covers local traffic laws, driver safety, and the local street layout. Taxi drivers also get training in operating the taximeter and communications equipment. Taxi drivers are trained in accordance with local regulations; in contrast, limousine chauffeurs usually are trained by their company, and customer service is emphasized. Ride-hailing drivers receive little to no training beyond how to work the electronic hailing app so they can pick up customers. Paratransit drivers receive special training in how to handle wheelchair lifts and other mechanical devices.
Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations
All taxi drivers and chauffeurs must have a regular automobile driver’s license. States and local municipalities set other requirements; many require drivers to get a taxi or chauffeur's license. This normally requires passing a drug test and a written test about regulations and local geography.
The majority of states and municipalities do not have regulations pertaining to ride-hailing drivers because the service has just recently grown in popularity. A few cities have started to issue regulations and some have even ordered ride-hailing companies to cease and desist operations. Check with your local area for more information.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration requires that limousine drivers who transport at least 16 passengers at a time (including the driver) have a commercial driver’s license (CDL) with a passenger (P) endorsement. To get these, a driver has to pass knowledge and driving skills tests.
Taxi drivers and chauffeurs have limited advancement opportunities. Some taxi drivers start their own cab service by purchasing a taxi rather than leasing one through a dispatch company. For chauffeurs, advancement usually takes the form of driving more important clients and different types of cars. Some taxi drivers and chauffeurs can become a “lead driver,” which means they train new drivers in addition to continuing to drive their own clients.
Customer-service skills. Taxi drivers and chauffeurs regularly interact with their customers and have to represent their company positively and make sure passengers are satisfied with their ride. Because passengers rate ride-hailing drivers after each trip, excellent customer-service skills can lead to a favorable review.
Dependability. Customers rely on taxi drivers and chauffeurs to pick them up at the agreed-upon time so they get to their destinations when they need to be there.
Hand-eye coordination. Taxi drivers and chauffeurs have to be able to observe their surroundings and steer away from obstacles and dangerous drivers while operating a vehicle.
Initiative. Taxi drivers and chauffeurs usually work with little or no supervision, so they must be self-motivated and able to take initiative to earn a living.
Patience. Drivers must be calm and composed when driving through heavy traffic, congestion, or dealing with rude passengers.
Visual ability. Taxi drivers and chauffeurs must be able to pass a state-issued vision test in order to hold a driver’s license.