Taxi drivers across North East Lincolnshire are being asked to remember their responsibilities to accommodate assistance dogs when driving those who are visually and audibly impaired.
Unless they have a verified medical exemption, drivers are required by law to do so according to the Equality Act 2010.
It is a criminal offence if taxi and Private Hire Vehicle (PHV) drivers refuse access to an assistance dog owner. Despite this, the number of taxi access refusals nationally remains high – in 2023, 133 refusals were reported to Guide Dogs, and many instances go unreported.
The dogs should also be allowed in the taxi at no extra cost and be with their owner at all times.
People with sight or hearing loss rely on public transport, including taxis and PHVs to get out and about independently. Access refusals can be debilitating and humiliating, preventing people with sight loss from living the lives they choose.
In North East Lincolnshire last year, a licensed driver appeared before the licensing committee for refusing to accept an assistance dog and was given a two-week suspension.
Councillor Stan Shreeve, Deputy Leader and Portfolio Holder for Health, Wellbeing and Adult Social Care, said: “For many of us, including myself, the gift of sight and hearing is something we take for granted.
“Very few of us know what it’s like to be visually or audibly impaired and for those that do, public transport is essential. Without it, some would struggle to leave their homes and live the life they deserve.
“I ask that taxi drivers across the borough think about this when approached by those with assistance dogs. Not only is it your legal duty, but it is also a way of helping people in their day to day life.”