• Oct 19, 2009

It's hard to believe, but cab drivers in New York City are prohibited by law from talking on cell phones, with or without headsets. That doesn't seem to stop them, says the city's Taxi and Limousine Commission. Citing phone-related accident statistics, the commission is now proposing more stringent rules that would raise fines and even keep cabbies from using hands-free devices to chat. "We've tried everything else; there's no other way we can make this work," says Matthew W. Daus, the taxi commissioner.

In the first six months of 2009, only one ticket was issued for every 500,000 cab rides. Cabbies escape prosecution because they claim they were only wearing the hands-free devices, not using them. "Judges have been dismissing summonses because there's no proof of conversation," says Daus. Under the proposed rules, the wearing of a headset merits an infraction. Under the current rules, cab drivers are allowed to talk on cell phones while stopped at a red light. The new rules would require drivers to pull over to answer the phone.

Without a doubt, the cabbies are riled. Calling the proposed rules inhumane, they claim mobile phones are crucial in emergencies and the only way they are able to keep in touch with relatives during their 12-hour shifts. While the drafted rules are subject to public hearings next month, the drivers point out the absurdity of some of the proposals. When one organizer at the New York Taxi Workers Alliance was told that he'd have to pull over to answer a ringing phone, his amusing answer was rather succinct: "Where do you get space to put your car?"

[Source: NY Times | Photo by EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/Getty]


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  • 24 Comments
      • 5 Years Ago
      If we take NYC cabbies off their phones, who will provide tech support for Dell?
        • 5 Years Ago
        Well played, sir.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I don't understand people's compulsion to answer a ringing phone. All cell phones have voicemail. If it rings while you are driving, let it go to voicemail. When you can pull over, listen to your voicemail and, if necessary, call back. Sitting at a desk for 10 hours can be boring to. Doesn't mean I have the right to spend the entire day talking on the phone. "Oh noes, it's so inhumane!"
      • 5 Years Ago
      So when are they going to crack down on Cops talking on the phone while driving?
      • 5 Years Ago
      There is a very simple solution:

      Let New York post a $50 bounty on passenger-provided audio / video of the cabbie on the phone, with a $200 fine to the cabbie.

      For a FREE $50, New Yorkers will take care of the enforcement automatically, and the talking while driving paid fares will stop immediately.

      • 5 Years Ago
      This is another losing battle for the NYC cabbies. The last one was the credit card issue, which finally brought the cabs into the 21st century (if you have a business and don't take credit cards, you're probably a drug dealer). If anything, the cell phone issue should have been resolved first. I'm sorry, but ALL of our lives are at greater risk when a cabbie is on the phone. This isn't really up for debate, is it?
      • 5 Years Ago
      How about registering your displeasure at a cabbie's cell phone use by paying the exact fare (withholding the tip) and letting him know the reason as you exit the cab? If enough cab riders did that, it wouldn't be long before the need for these cell-use regulations would be virtually nil.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I see no harm in letting cabbies talk. All of them do it. Its not like all of them are getting into accidents.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Not all drunk drivers get into accidents either. It is called mitigating a known risk.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Almost anyone who takes yellow cabs on a regular basis in NYC knows that taxi drivers are CONSTANTLY on their cell phones. It's a joke when they say they need to use it for emergencies.

      I'd love take 10 random taxi drivers and cross reference their shift schedule with their cell phone bills and see how much time they're actually on the phone during their shifts. Then I'd like them to explain how all the time on the phone qualifies as an "emergency".

      I've personally had 3 of my cars hit by cabs, twice by yellow cabs and once by a town car and all the times my car was stopped, either in traffic or at a red light. One of those times my ex was driving my car and the yellow cab did a hit and run. She couldn't get his medallion number before he got away. So I don't feel sorry for them at all. A NYC police officer once told me that they call them the "yellow menaces" because of the way they drive.
      • 5 Years Ago
      oh noes!!! Whatever did the cabbies do before cellphones? Oh wait - their families still got on by themselves, emergencies were still emergencies, and the world kept rotating on its axis.

      There are days I really wish that device had never been created.
      • 5 Years Ago
      As bad as NY cabbies drive, I think their talking on cell phones is the least of their problems.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Can a cashier answer his/her phone while on register? Can the President take a call while giving a speech? Can a kid answer his phone in class? NO, you have a job, do it, you talk on your own time, not the time I'm paying you for.
        • 5 Years Ago
        No, he's referring to the "inhumane" aspects or the "keep in touch with relatives" stuff. 25 years ago when cell phones didn't exist, was it inhumane to be a cabbie? No. It's complete nonsense. Like David says below.
        • 5 Years Ago
        To be fair your logic is awful. Those are completely different situations that call for special attention towards a customer. So long as the cabby has an ear piece I honestly don't care. They drive like maniacs whether they are on the phone or not.
        • 5 Years Ago
        I couldn't agree more with B3 as well as LS7.

        It's so true. If you are on the job, you are on the job. "Keep in touch with relative" is not in your job description nor a necessity. Just because you have it and available does not mean you are entitled to do so.

        • 5 Years Ago
        YES, YES and YES!
      • 5 Years Ago
      Good.
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