TAXI drivers are being warned they could face sanctions for not displaying company signs on their vehicles as council bosses look to protect passengers.

Colchester Council's strict rules for licensed drivers state they must display the company they work for on the doors of their vehicles.

They also have to show information as to whether it is a taxi which can only be pre-booked.

The regulations are designed to protect the public and reassure customers they are getting into a legitimate vehicle they actually ordered.

Council bosses have noticed a spike in the number of people not displaying the correct signs - last year 34 drivers were caught.

And so far this year 29 have already been hauled over the coals by the authority.

It equates to 46 per cent of all offences recorded against taxi drivers.

Drivers can receive six points on their licence if they fall foul of the rules twice and may also be subject to a written warning and even a 28 day suspension from duties if they tot up 12 points within a year.

Repeated breaches can also send insurance costs spiralling for drivers.

The council's cabinet member for public safety Mike Lilley (Lab) said he was concerned to see drivers continually ignoring the rules which are set out to ensure people stay safe.

He said: "Public safety should be of paramount concern to everyone.

"These rules exist for a very good reason, to reassure and protect passengers, but unfortunately some licensed taxi drivers seem determined to flout them.

“The majority of private hire companies and their drivers carry out their trade lawfully and condemn the few that bring the trade into disrepute.

"We hope that all legitimately licensed private hire vehicle drivers will heed our advice, follow the rules, and continue to display the appropriate signs on the doors of their vehicles.”