Just a text to check you’re safe

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Passengers catching taxis and private hire cabs can now benefit from an extra safety check using their mobile phones, thanks to a scheme being supported by Milton Keynes Council.

Launching today, Am I Safe is a mobile phone application designed to improve safety of passengers and drivers of taxis/private hire vehicles

Milton Keynes Council is joining the scheme that allows a passenger to enter in to a mobile phone the registration of the taxi/PHV to check if the vehicle is licensed or not, and the type of license it holds (eg: private hire or taxi).

Once this is done Am I Safe uses a global positioning signal linked to the application on the mobile phone to store the time, location, car registration, and user name, thus making it easy to track the passenger quickly if something was to happen.

It also sends a copy of this information to nominated friends and family so they know you have been picked up by a taxi giving the registration number and location.

The benefits can flow both ways when cab drivers are victims of assault by passengers or lose trade because some passengers run off without paying the fare.

Thames Valley Police, which is also backing the service, can use the tracking information from the mobile phone service to help with their subsequent investigations.

Council environmental health team leader for, Simon Teesdale, said: “This is a great idea that can help reassure people travelling by taxis or private hire vehicles in MK that they are using a licensed vehicle.

“Also it is a fantastic extra benefit being able to let friends and family know you have been picked up by a legal taxi/private hire.”

AM I Safe? founder Anthony Price-Thomson, said: “Over the past 12 months, we have been working very closely with passengers, operators, Police forces and Councils to understand the challenges they face in ensuring the safety of passengers and drivers of taxis and private hire vehicles alike.

“I am delighted to say that we have built a web application that aims to meet those challenges.”

To join the Am I Safe scheme smart phone users need to pay a one off subscription cost of £2.99 by registering online at www.amisafe.co.uk .

For the first 10,000 users it is reduced to £1.99 by using voucher code ‘MK1’ on signing up.

The company behind the mobile service, Texemtel, is going to donate 10p from every subscription to various charities.