NYC Taxi commission looking for new ways to ban cellphone use for cabbies

NYC Taxi

For the past decade, there has been a difficult-to-enforce ban on cell phone usage by NYC cabdrivers. “We”ve tried everything else; there”s no other way we can make this work,” taxi commissioner Matthew W. Daus told the New York Times on Friday, referencing the Taxi and Limousine Commission’s proposal of more stringent rules that would raise fines and prohibit even the use of hands free headsets while driving a cab.

These bans already exist but the policies are seldom enforced; the first six months of 2009 saw summons being issued at a rate of 1 per every 500,000 cab rides. Studies have shown, according to the Times, that a cabdriver using a cellphone is four times as likely to crash than one who is not.

Right now, a common defense to summonses given for talking into a headset is that the device was simply beg worn and not used. The new rules would allow officers to issue a summons simply for the wearing of such devices. The new rules would provide for an increased fine for the first offense, a 30 day suspension of license for the second offense, and a revocation of license for those with three violations in a 15 month span.

There would also be no permitted use of BlackBerry phones, smartphones, PDA’s and no text messaging. Drivers would also be required to pull to the curb to answer a call, where as now they may answer at red lights.

Members of the livery industry showed much concern, due to their inability to pick passengers up on the street. These companies depend primarily on the cell phone to communicate with drivers.

– By: Stephen Calogera

Source: NYTimes