Will NYC Act to Get Deadly Cab Drivers Off the Streets? [Updated]

An analysis by the Post confirms that cab drivers who injure and kill pedestrians in NYC rarely face sanctions from the Taxi and Limousine Commission.

The cab driver who drove onto a Midtown sidewalk and severed the leg of tourist Sian Green still has a valid hack license. Photo: @BraddJaffy

The Post examined 16 serious crashes since 2009 and found that only two drivers had their hack licenses revoked. The cabbies who killed Timothy Keith and Cooper Stock and the driver who maimed Sian Green are among those who remain in good standing with the TLC.

The Post’s Freedom of Information Act request found that 874 hacks have had their license revoked since 2009 because of point accumulations — a tiny fraction of the 51,340 licensed cabbies in NYC.

License points can accumulate through NYPD summonses or consumer complaints. According to the Post, under current rules the TLC can suspend licenses for just 30 days when a cab driver has six or more license points, and can’t revoke a license until a driver has more than 10 points.

Summonses for failure to yield and running a red light add three points to a hack license, the Post reported, a reckless driving summons adds five points, and a ticket for driving from 31 to 40 miles per hour over the speed limit adds eight points. To reiterate: A cabbie who gets caught doing 70 through a city neighborhood would not necessarily lose his hack license.

When a cab driver killed senior Lori Stevens in the West Village in 2012, the TLC said that unless criminal charges are filed, or a consumer files a complaint, the agency has no lawful basis for action against a cabbie who harms a pedestrian.

“If they are specific to TLC rule violations, such as 54-15(1), ‘A driver must be courteous to passengers,’ the points are accrued through a similar program called ‘Persistent Violator,'” TLC spokesperson Allan Fromberg told Streetsblog today. “Here, too, six points results in a suspension, and 10 earns revocation.”

A 2004 study found that cab drivers are less crash-prone on a per-miles driven basis than other NYC motorists. But cab drivers injure and kill countless numbers of pedestrians and cyclists a year, and it is up to the city to protect the public by weeding out those who drive recklessly.

Fromberg told the Post “the agency is now exploring amending its rules so that a driver involved in a crash that kills or maims a pedestrian would have his license immediately suspended or revoked, pending an investigation of the crash.” It is not known if rule changes would require city or state legislative action, Fromberg said.

Michael Woloz, spokesperson for the Metropolitan Taxicab Board of Trade, told Nicole Gelinas recently that today’s cabs are “roving computers that have endless capabilities.” Yet as Gelinas wrote, the TLC does not use technology like GPS or on-board cameras to track speeding and other reckless behavior. Fromberg said the TLC is “exploring ways to access more real-time accident data.”

The TLC is one of the departments tasked by Mayor Bill de Blasio to help produce a pedestrian safety plan, which is due on February 15. De Blasio has not yet named a successor to former commissioner David Yassky.

The TLC tweeted this morning that the agency is “working to develop new safety initiatives for our drivers under Vision Zero.”

Correction: This post originally stated, “In order to accumulate license points a cab driver must be summonsed by NYPD.” The copy has since been corrected.