Best Ways to Hail a Cab Driver in the USA

When most people think of taxi cab drivers, they think of New York City. They are a main form of transportation there, but you can find cab services in most cities and towns across the United States. For many people who are unaccustomed to city life, hailing a cab can actually be surprisingly difficult. You may find yourself running around like a fool trying to get the attention of a cab driver, but there are only a few simple things to know about taxi cabs that will make it easy for you to get around the city.

First of all, you need to know what the lights on the roof of a cab mean. The lights indicate whether the cab is available, occupied, or off duty. On the display there is a central number surrounded by 'Off Duty' lights. If only the center number is lit, this cab is available for a hail. If none of the lights are lit, the cab driver is already occupied with a customer. If both the center and the 'Off Duty' lights are lit, or only the 'Off Duty' lights are lit, the cab is off duty. Many people make the mistake of trying to hail off duty or occupied taxis and get discouraged.

When you are ready to hail a cab driver, it is best to stand on the side of the street that has cars going in the direction you want to go. This means that the cab won't have to turn around, which will save you time and money. Find somewhere to stand where you will be highly visible to drivers, and step off the curb a foot or so. Do not go out into traffic, and keep an eye on incoming cars. Street corners are good places to stand when hailing a cab driver. Avoid shadowy places and overhangs where it might be difficult to see you.

When you see a cab driver coming, stick your arm out far towards the street. Don't be timid with this gesture, you want to make sure that you are seen. Try to make eye contact with the taxi driver, because he or she may give you some indication that they are going to pull over for you. If you get the cab, tell the driver the address of your destination if possible, rather than the name of a particular store or building. Also, it is a nice thing to let them know if you need to make multiple stops.

A standard taxi cab allows no more than four people in at a time, but sometimes there are larger vehicles available. A tip of 15 percent is standard in most cities, and you may want to give a little extra if you have bags that the driver helps you with. Try to exit the cab curbside for safety purposes. Remember that a little courtesy goes a long way – don't be afraid to be friendly with your driver.

Photo Credit: Damian Morys

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