New Year revellers across South Tyneside are being reminded to stay safe on the way home.
South Tyneside Council licences 236 taxis and 315 private hire cars to help protect passengers, ensure drivers are 'fit and proper' and to make sure the vehicles are safe.
Coun Nancy Maxwell, Lead Member for Area Management and Community Safety, said: "We want everyone to enjoy a great night out as they celebrate the New Year, but we also want them to stay safe.
"This is a time of year when people are more likely to let their guard down, particularly after consuming alcohol when their judgement or decision making can be impaired. Therefore we would not only encourage them to drink responsibly, but highlight a few simple but effective messages about personal safety.
"The key to a safe journey home is to plan ahead. Taxis will also be in very high demand with most people heading home after the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve, so we would encourage people to be patient.
"We would also urge people to arrange their journey home in advance with a licensed company that they know and trust. Alternatively, use one of the designated taxi ranks.”
Before a night out, people are advised to:-
Plan their journey home;
Pre-book a journey home with one of the taxis or private hire cars operating in the Borough, if possible;
Tell a family member where they are going and what time they should be due back;
Go home with a friend or a group of friends, if possible;
Use one of the designated taxi ranks to get a taxi or have the telephone number of one of the licensed companies operating in the Borough programmed into their mobile phone;
Before getting into any vehicle, check that the vehicle has a licence plate and a permit displayed in the front windscreen;
Ask the driver to show his/her badge if it’s not clearly visible;
Do not accept lifts from strangers under any circumstances.
Passengers are also urged to try to remember some details about the vehicle they use, the driver’s licence number or part of the vehicle’s registration number.
Councillor Maxwell said: "Any of these details will help the Council to trace the vehicle or driver if there is a problem or if they leave property behind accidentally.
"We find that the vast majority of people that call the Council's Licensing Team to report lost property cannot remember any details relating to the vehicle or driver, so it is almost impossible to track down."
To report any taxi-related concerns, or get advice, contact the Council's Licensing Team on (0191) 424 7695.