NYC Cab Drivers Don’t Have to Take an NYC Road Test [Updated]

You can watch the entirety of Thursday’s hearing on Taxi and Limousine Commission Vision Zero rule changes here. Cue to the 41:15 mark in the second video, embedded above, to see TLC board members wonder aloud whether reckless driving is protected by the Constitution, and if it’s really that bad to run over and kill someone while taking a phone call.

But first, other news from yesterday:

  • The TLC previewed two stickers meant to improve cab driver safety. As prescribed by Mayor de Blasio’s Vision Zero Action Plan, one will be placed on every taxi windshield to remind drivers when they make turns that “people are crossing.” The second one, which will be optional, is a bumper sticker for cabs that says “Your choices behind the wheel matter.” There was some question as to where on the windshield the first sticker should be placed — Paul Steely White of Transportation Alternatives testified that it should be on the left, but it seems the TLC, in consultation with DOT, has decided to put them behind rear view mirrors. Regardless, while this is surely a well-intended effort, for cab drivers who are oblivious to actual people in front of their vehicles, you’ve got to question how effective a sticker reminding them to pay attention will be.
  • Speaking of stickers, I took a cab ride a couple of weeks ago and noticed there was no partition sticker reminding passengers to watch for cyclists before opening the rear passenger door. I learned yesterday that these stickers are optional.
  • You can get a TLC license without getting behind the wheel of a cab. “I was floored to learn that cab drivers are not required to do a road test,” said Dana Lerner, Cooper Stock’s mother, during testimony. “How can a professional driver be hired if they have not been adequately tested on the streets of New York City?” TLC Commissioner Meera Joshi addressed other points made by Lerner, but didn’t speak to the road test question, though the Vision Zero Action Plan calls for more extensive driver training. Update: A TLC spokesperson emailed us to point out that in order to get a TLC license, applicants must possess a chauffeur’s license, which is issued by the state DMV and does require a road test.

  • Another new law discussed Thursday combines DMV and TLC license points, and penalizes drivers for their combined total. A hack license will be suspended for six total points, and revoked for 10. White testified that TA objects to TLC policy that will remove driver points for safe driving classes.
  • Some data points revealed yesterday: 79 percent of TLC-licensed drivers were not in a reported collision in 2013 (meaning two in 10 drivers were); fewer than 1 percent of drivers are involved in a critical injury or fatal crash annually; and in 2012, 48 percent of for-hire drivers received DMV or safety-related TLC points on their licenses.
  • The TLC held its first cab driver honor roll ceremony earlier this month, honoring 295 of its 115,000 drivers for having no tickets, injury crashes, or violations of TLC rules (some of which are not safety-related) for five years. Frederick Amoafo of Queens was named the city’s safest hack. Asked for his advice to other cabbies, Amoafo told the Daily News: “Relax. Don’t put so much pressure on yourself. You only get the money if you get the passengers there safely.”