New Livery Business Rules and Regulations now Mirror those of Taxi Businesses

Although livery drivers and taxi drivers serve a different set of customers, the rules and regulations for both industries are now merging. According to the Worcester Telegram, livery drivers and owner operators in Gardner are now following the same rules as taxi companies due to an ordinance change approved by the City Council.

The Council voted to approve these changes in March. Here are some of the important parameters to know about for your livery business:

Livery vehicles have a predetermined rate once the passenger enters. They do not operate on a fixed route or roving basis, are hired by means of a telephone request or contract arranged in advance, and need livery plates issued by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Vehicles used to provide services to funeral homes won’t be considered livery vehicles under this law.
The owner operators must be licensed in order to conduct or operate a livery business in the City of Gardner. It is expected, but not required, that the “owner” also be the “operator” of the livery service business.
An “operator” is any person licensed who manages a livery business on behalf of the owner. “Operator” does not mean “driver.”
The driver is the person licensed, employed by, or otherwise contracted with the livery business to drive a licensed livery vehicle to pick up and transport the passenger(s).
No person can set up, use, or drive any Livery vehicle for the transport of persons for hire, from place to place within the City, unless he has obtained a license to do so.
Each owner and operator of a livery service business shall not conduct or operate it without a license. The owner and/or operator shall complete the application fully, accurately, and honestly.
An owner of a livery business cannot employ a driver, nor allow a driver to operate a livery vehicle unless the driver has obtained a City of Gardner livery driver’s license.
The taxi business name, license number, and the business telephone number should be legible and clearly visible on the center of the front door. Livery vehicles are exempt from this section.
The interior and exterior of every licensed livery vehicle is to be kept clean. All vehicles shall be thoroughly cleaned, inspected, and repaired by the owner at least once a week.
The Chief of Police is authorized to order the owner, operator, and driver of any livery vehicle to be removed immediately from public use if it is unsafe or in a dangerous condition.
The licensee of a livery driver’s license must answer fully and civilly any questions asked of him or her by a police officer.
Every livery vehicle should be submitted for an annual inspection in the month of May, unless otherwise directed by the Chief of Police.
The Chief of Police can do background checks on livery drivers if necessary.
Overall, these changes can enable the local police to better ensure the safety of the livery vehicles and drivers. If you feel your livery business requires more protection to prevent accidents and injuries, rely on Wolpert Insurance for reliable livery insurance. Contact us today for more information!

Training Your Employees to have Heightened Awareness

At Wolpert Insurance, we are keeping the victims of the recent Boston Marathon tragedies in our hearts and minds. We pray that officials will resolve the situation soon, and for now, we are committed to remaining strong and showing our support Boston.

Due to such threatening events, the National Limousine Association is offering a “Heightened Awareness Alert” guide for front line staff, including chauffeurs and limousine drivers. Does your livery company have a plan in place during times of heightened awareness? If not, then you should establish one so your employees can remain safe and out of harm’s way during a catastrophe.

Although terrorist attacks may not target limousine companies directly, you should still take precautionary action, especially since your customers may be traveling to the spots being targeted. As an owner operator, you need to train your drivers to be observant and helpful to officials by following the rule, “If you see something, say something.”

When creating a training course for your employees, you should make sure each lesson helps them prepare for personal safety hazards. First, make sure they have a firm grasp on the area they will be servicing. Each employee should be able to find appropriate destinations for customers, be proficient in map reading, know regional area safe/danger zones, and find emergency facilities in case a mishap occurs.

Since your staff works mostly alone and interacts with the public at all hours, they are at an increased risk for accidents and harm. This is why when they should always wear their seatbelts and practice safe driving techniques. Other security measures that can be taken are keeping the doors locked and windows up when parked. Also, if a driver is unfamiliar with the surroundings, they should keep the vehicle running during a pickup.

Using safety devices such as partitions or shields that separate the driver’s area from the passenger area will help avoid dangerous situations. In addition, installing security cameras, emergency signs, and panic buttons can keep drivers safe during times of heightened awareness. With the proper training, your chauffeurs can avoid accidents, injuries, liability issues, and more, especially during times like this.

Providing Meal Breaks to Your Employees

At Wolpert Insurance, we know you value your hard working livery employees, which is why they deserve meal breaks. They are on the road for long hours and even during nights. Allowing them to rest and to have a meal is a good way to not only help them reenergize, but prevent claims to your company. It is Massachusetts state law to provide your drivers with meal breaks. If you don’t have a system in place to do so, you could be handed a lawsuit, especially if an accident were to occur due to a lack of break time.

According to the Labor Laws in Massachusetts, you must provide workers with meal breaks. This law states that employees must receive a 30-minute break after six hours of working. In addition, a driver can leave the workplace during the break if desired. If an employee voluntarily gives up the meal break, he/she must be paid for all hours that were worked. Finally, employees are allowed to pray during their meal break because this period is considered the employee’s free time.

As a livery owner, it is important to understand that different circumstances can arise surrounding the meaning of meal breaks. For example, if a driver still has some responsibilities to tend to during a meal break, such as being required to stay with the vehicle, then this should be compensated as paid working time. If this example were to happen to your company, make sure you are able to prove that each driver was paid appropriately during breaks, whether working through them or not. In addition, you should communicate to your drivers that they are expected to take a meal break when it is legally required. Ensuring there is sufficient down-time for all employees can aid in a more productive workforce.

Creating a culture where open communication is encouraged and can help drivers feel more comfortable to speak up. This is especially true if they have issues with procedures. Getting to know you livery team can also increase trust between drivers, managers, and supervisors. All of these examples can go a long way in avoiding claims.

At Wolpert Insurance, we hope you never have to face a lawsuit due to failure in giving appropriate meal breaks or for any other circumstance. Paying attention to the needs of your livery employees and being protected with our livery insurance can help you avoid accident, injuries, and unhappy customers. Take the time to be prepared for the unexpected by putting your drivers’ well being first.