In general, most taxi drivers choose to wear clothing that is comfortable and will not hinder their driving abilities when on the road. Many members of the public do not even consider what clothes a taxi driver is wearing whilst being driven to their destination, which is why drivers are baffled at Maidstone Council’s plans to introduce a dress code for Hackney carriage drivers in the area.
The Council have claimed that a dress code for taxi drivers will improve visitors’ impressions of the area, and is planning on banning taxi drivers from wearing sportswear, clothing with logos and anything ripped. There are also some restrictions that make more sense, such as not allowing taxi drivers to wear flip flops or sandals with an open back, as these types of footwear don’t provide enough grip are prone to fall off while driving.
The report written by the Councillors has stated that they believe acceptable clothing includes shirts, tops covering the shoulders which are also long enough to be tucked into trousers, shorts and footwear which fits around the heel. The report also said that “the purpose of a driver’s dress code is to seek a minimum standard of dress that provides a positive image of the Hackney carriage and private hire trade in Maidstone, enhances a professional image of licensed drivers and ensures that public and driver safety is not compromised.”
Discussing the plans, Chairman of Maidstone Taxi Proprietors’ Association, Dennis Conyon, said: “There have never been any complaints from members of the public – it was just something the council wished to do. The majority are quite respectfully dressed, but some of the larger people have a problem to get the clothes they require. We live in a different world now. I’m 78 years of age and when I was a cab driver it was a tie and shirt, but times have changed.”
Taxi drivers in the area are also against the introduction of a dress code, with taxi driver Stephen Hunt saying: “If the council think they can tell me what to wear they can think again. In the summer, I’m in shorts and a T-shirt and a pair of sandals that are suitable for driving. I’m not going to be driving about in the sweltering heat in a shirt and tie.” Taxi drivers are also concerned that they will be expected to pay for new clothing, which means that they will have less income after covering the costs of other expenses including taxi insurance, licences and general repairs.