Limousine drivers are responsible for the safety and happiness of their passengers, while also holding a responsibility to keep the roads safe for other motorists and pedestrians. The challenges inherent in the job are the reason behind the rules and regulations that govern limo drivers, and these laws provide an incentive for limousine companies to hire only the most qualified drivers.
Several different types of requirements can help identify competent and legitimate limousine drivers. Drivers should have a general knowledge of automotive mechanics, which will allow them to operate the vehicle safely and identify potential mechanical problems before they become severe. A limo driver also needs strong interpersonal skills to interact with passengers, as well as an understanding of how to read maps and navigate unfamiliar places. Limo drivers must have a professional demeanor that fits with the formal events and wealthy clients they will often come into contact with.
Each state sets its own laws for the legal requirements of limousine drivers through its department of motor vehicles. Every state requires a limousine driver to hold a standard driver's license, and some states also require a special chauffeur's license that is only awarded to drivers who complete additional driver testing. In other cases, states require criminal background checks of all prospective limousine drivers. The federal government requires drivers who transport 16 or more passengers to have a commercial driver's license, which may be necessary for driving some of the largest limousines or limo buses at full capacity.
Legal and skills requirements for limo drivers ensure safe, accommodating service. Drivers who get their passengers to the destination on time and without incident help enhance the company's brand image. They also save the company money by keeping the limo itself safe and clean and minimizing the use of fuel by taking direct, efficient routes. Special laws allow states to revoke the driving privileges of limo drivers who present a safety hazard.
Each limo company may set its own criteria for hiring limo drivers, which may be more stringent or inclusive than state laws for having basic skills. To keep insurance premiums low, some companies only hire drivers who have a high school diploma, or those over 21 years old. Some companies only hire drivers over 25 years old, the age at which some insurers lower premiums for drivers. Company policy may also restrict the hiring of drivers with a driving record that includes liability for an accident.
Some of the strict requirements facing limo drivers can cause problems for an individual driver or workforce. The American Civil Liberties Union notes that companies that perform background checks run the risk of violating anti-discrimination laws, especially if they refuse to hire a limo driver based on an old conviction that isn't related to the skills or requirements needed to drive a limousine. Evaluating and investigating drivers can also prove costly to a limo company, and may prove to be a competitive disadvantage if other companies use a more relaxed approach to hiring.
2016 Salary Information for Taxi Drivers and Chauffeurs
Taxi drivers and chauffeurs earned a median annual salary of $24,300 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the low end, taxi drivers and chauffeurs earned a 25th percentile salary of $20,490, meaning 75 percent earned more than this amount. The 75th percentile salary is $30,440, meaning 25 percent earn more. In 2016, 305,100 people were employed in the U.S. as taxi drivers and chauffeurs.