Fieldtrip: Taxi cab meter inspections

by | May 28, 2009

Each month in our “Field Trip” feature, we take readers into the field with a NCDA&CS employee to find out more about the varied types of work that goes on in the Department.

There are 113 cab companies in Raleigh that manage a total of 514 cabs, each of which is inspected annually by our department. Some cities in North Carolina do inspections themselves, but in Raleigh the process is a partnership between the City of Raleigh and our Standards Division. We caught up with inspectors Travis Burger and Ronnie Abbot at their temporary inspection station on N.C. State University’s Centennial Campus to see how they conduct these inspections and why it’s important for consumers.

If you’re on your way to the State Farmers Market in Raleigh, check out the dashed lines in the far right and far left lanes on Centennial Parkway between Avent Ferry Road and Agriculture Street. Those lines denote the increments inspectors test against to be sure taxi meters fairly measure how far your cab ride really was. For each inspection, Burger and Abbot ride with the taxi driver on this road course.


Before the test drive starts, Abbot and Burger fasten the meter to a base in the taxi with a security seal. The meter is calibrated in one taxi and cannot be switched from one to another. Wheel size and other factors influence the meter calibration, so they must be calibrated together. Inspectors also check that everything on the dash is working and customers can clearly see the meter.

Other unusual items inspectors regulate across the state include hams, turkeys, milk, mulch and strawberry stands, to be sure consumers are receiving what they’re paying for. In addition, inspectors make sure customers aren’t overcharged at buffet restaurants where you can order food to-go by the pound. Burger explains that he and other inspectors make sure customers aren’t charged for tare weight (the weight of the packaging, such as to-go boxes or bags), which adds weight and, in turn, money onto a customer’s order. The same goes for coleslaw and candy that customers can package themselves at grocery and specialty stores.

If you have a question for our Standards Division, call it at (919) 733-3313. The department prides itself on answering every customer complaint promptly.