Guide dog owners are battling taxi and minicab drivers who are flouting the law
11 Nov 2016
- 42% of assistance dog owners have been turned away by a taxi or minicab in the past year.
- By comparison, only 3% of people who took part in a YouGov survey had been turned away by a taxi or minicab in the past year.
Guide dog owners are being prevented from doing everyday things, such as getting to work, meeting friends and visiting family because they are regularly being turned away by taxi and minicab drivers. New research released by the Guide Dogs charity shows that despite legal protection, guide dogs and other assistance dog owners who are accompanied by their dog are significantly more likely to be turned away by drivers than other passengers.
As well as being turned away by drivers, the research also shows that guide dog owners are often illegally asked to pay an extra fare to carry their dog and many report that they receive a second class service even when a driver agrees to carry them with their dog. Being discriminated against in this way is not only distressing, it can stop people who are living with sight loss do every day things that most people take for granted.
According to Guide Dogs research, 42% of assistance dog owners who took part in the survey were turned away by a taxi or minicab in the last year. By comparison, only 3% of people who took part in a YouGov opinion poll had had the same experience.
The research by YouGov and the charity Guide Dogs is being released ahead of a Private Member’s Bill debate on Friday, 18 November. If it becomes law, all taxi and minicab drivers in England will be required to take part in disability equality training, which the charity believes will help end this discrimination.
The Guide Dogs research also uncovered that 38% of guide dog and other assistance dog owners have been illegally asked to pay an extra fare for carrying their dog. By comparison only 13% of other taxi passengers say they have been asked to pay extra.
James White, Senior Campaigns Manager at Guide Dogs said: “Imagine you were turned away by a taxi driver or asked to pay an extra fare, for no good reason. Despite legal protection, this regularly happens to people living with sight loss because they are travelling with a guide dog.
“This discrimination is not only illegal, it knocks people’s confidence and can stop them doing the everyday things that most people take for granted.
“We would like to see the law changed and training introduced for all taxi and minicab drivers to help them understand the law and how to welcome assistance dog owners.”
Guide dog owner Elin Williams, aged 21, was reported to the police for criminal damage after a driver refused to take her and her guide dog, Jazzy, to the train station in Derby. The police investigated the complaint against Elin but dropped the charges.
Commenting on how she felt when she was turned away by the driver because of her guide dog, Elin said, “I was so scared that I froze. I was in shock and I couldn’t believe how angry the driver was, he was shouting louder and louder, and getting more and more irate.”
Under the Equality Act it is illegal for taxi and minicabs to refuse to carry a guide dog unless they have a medical exemption certificate.
Guide Dogs is supporting the Private Members Bill on Disability Equality Training which has been introduced by Andrew Gwynne MP.