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Taxicab Etiquette

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Taxicab etiquette may not seem of the utmost importance -- you don't need it to get through dinner with your new in-laws, for example -- but for those who travel frequently, knowing what to do and what not to do in a taxicab is essential. From knowing how much to tip to knowing what to do if you have a complaint, taxicab etiquette can help you get from point A to point B gracefully. Here are some basic tips on how to behave as a taxicab passenger:

• Don't take someone else's cab that they've just hailed.

• For safety reasons, when you enter the cab make sure the posted ID matches the driver.

• If the fare is to a major airport, ask if there's a flat rate vs. a metered rate.

• If the radio or speaker is too loud, it's okay to ask the driver to turn it down.

• Never eat in a taxicab. And be careful if you have a beverage with you.

• If you feel your driver is "taking you for a ride," so to speak, it's okay to give him an alternate route.

• Many drivers can be chatty. If you're not up to conversation, one-word responses will soon give him the hint.

• Traffic jams can be frustrating, but don't take it out on the driver. If you're in a hurry, get out and walk.

• Give the driver sufficient notice as to where you want to stop--don't wait until you almost at your destination.

• If you have any trash, take it with you; don't toss on the floor.

• The standard tip for a taxi is 10 percent of the total fare in the United States, but you should give more if the driver has to wait for you or help you with luggage.

• To report bad behavior such as rudeness or overcharging, write down the driver's name and medallion number and call the cab company and the local taxi commission later to complain.

• If you feel the driver is putting you in danger by his or her behavior, make an excuse to leave the taxi, or threaten to call 911.

Lisa Mirza Grotts is a recognized etiquette expert, an on-air contributor, and the author of A Traveler's Passport to Etiquette. She is a former director of protocol for the city and county of San Francisco and the founder and CEO of The AML Group (www.AMLGroup.com), certified etiquette and protocol consultants. Her clients range from Stanford Hospital to Cornell University and Levi Strauss. She has been quoted by Condé Nast Traveler, InStyle magazine, and The New York Times. To learn more about Lisa, follow her on www.Twitter.com/LisaGrotts and www.Facebook.com/LisaGrotts.