Amanda Ripley

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Chatty Cabbie

17th Aug 2009 posted in General

I’ve always thought that the ability to talk on the phone while driving was part of the cabbie job description.  But until this New York Times article I had no idea it was actually illegal for NYC cabbies to talk on the phone while driving (the same cannot be same said for Washington, DC and many other cities).

While the law is largely unenforced, the dangers of cell phone use while driving are undeniable (drivers using cell phones are “four times as likely to cause a crash.”) But drivers aren’t the same thing as taxi drivers, right? Surely cabbies must be better equipped to deal with distraction. If anything, they simply drive more than the average person.  A 2004 study concluded that NYC cabbies were less crash prone than the average driver (crash rate was one-third lower than other vehicles), and as a result, fewer passengers are injured in taxis.

It’s hard to know how cell phone use affects the crash rate. According to the New York Times, the NYC Taxi and Limousine Commission doesn’t keep records of any taxi accidents (with or without cellphone use). In April, in an effort to improve passenger experience, the NYC Taxi and Limousine Commission considered installing cell -phone blocking technology in cabs, but idea was met with serious concerns over how such technology would interfere with emergency calls.

You could always ask your taxi driver to refrain from cell phone use, but it is a little scary to make unpopular demands of someone who holds your life in their hands… Anyone ever tried? Let us know!