Lean & her Guide Dog Higgins
Lean & her Guide Dog Higgins

Have you ever wondered how and where a Guide Dog or Assistance Dog travels in a taxi or hackney? This week our Advocacy and Policy Coordinator Lean Kennedy,  looks at all you need to know about how Guide Dogs & Assistance Dogs travel in taxis, hackneys or other Small Public Service Vehicles.

Where does the Guide Dog or Assistance Dog go?On the seat? On the roof-rack? In the driver’s seat?

Many people are curious to know where the Guide Dog or Assistance Dog goes. The Guide Dog or Assistance Dog tucks themselves up neatly and quietly, next to their owner’s feet, in the passenger seat foot well.

How does this work?

The taxi or hackney driver pushes back the passenger seat, as far as it will go, so that the Guide Dog or Assistance Dog has plenty of room to curl up in the passenger seat foot well next to their owner.

How about in a taxi or hackney mini-bus?

The same rule applies. The Guide Dog or Assistance Dog lies down on the foot well floor next to the owner in a minibus. Sometimes minibuses have lines of seats in the rear, so the Guide Dog or Assistance Dog will lie between the seat rows, in the foot well, next to their owner.

The Guide Dog or Assistance Dog is kept on a lead at all times so it stays alongside its owner.

Are taxi, hackney and other Small Public Service Vehicle drivers obliged to carry the Guide Dog or Assistance Dog?

Yes, under both the Taxi Regulation Acts 2003 to 2016 and the Equal Status Acts 2000 to 2015, these drivers must carry a Guide Dog or Assistance Dog when it is assisting its owner, as a mobility or safety aid.

Who enforces the law?

The National Transport Authority enforces the Taxi Regulation Acts. The Workplace Relations Commission enforces the Equal Status Acts.

If I am a taxi / hackney driver, how can I help a person with a Guide Dog or Assistance Dog in to the car?

It is best when you meet a person with a Guide Dog or an Assistance Dog to ask if they need help getting in to the car. For someone who is blind or has impaired vision, with a Guide Dog in white harness with reflective markings, it might be tricky for the person to find the door to the passenger side.

If they say they would like some help: Please do walk up to the person and stop at their right hand side. The Guide Dog or Assistance Dog will always walk on their owner’s left side (the Guide Dog or Assistance Dog remains with their owner on a lead at all times), so the right side is best when offering help.

Offer the person your left arm, elbow out, so the person can hold your arm by your elbow. From this point communication is key. Let the person know where you need to walk to reach the car.

You probably will not have far to go at all. It is helpful to let the person know if you are stepping on to or off kerbs, or steps. Ensure the passenger door is open for the passenger.

When you bring them to the passenger seat, across from the driver seat, reach your guiding arm (arm the person is holding) towards the back support of the passenger seat. The person will reach for the seat, back support side, to find the location of the seat and which way the seat is facing. Depending on the owner the Guide Dog or Assistance Dog will hop in to the passenger seat foot well, first or after their owner sits in to the passenger seat. Either way the Guide Dog or Assistance Dog tucks themselves in to the foot well. It is good to ask the person if they would like you to close the passenger door for them once they are settled in to the seat.

I’d like more information

If you would like more information on Guide Dogs and Assistance Dogs in taxis, hackneys or other Small Public Service Vehicles; or on how to assist a passenger with a Guide Dog or Assistance Dog in to the taxi or hackney; please contact Lean Kennedy, our Advocacy and Policy Coordinator on email: [email protected]