New York City taxi cabs are involved in 8,000 to 10,000 accidents a year, many of them claiming lives or causing serious injuries. Yet even some of the cabbies involved in the worst crashes can be back on the streets in no time.
According to a New York Post article, 14 of 16 cabbies involved in accidents in which people were either killed or maimed since 2009 were allowed to drive again. Only two drivers lost their taxi licenses, which are issued by the Taxi and Limousine Commission.
Meanwhile, serious accidents involving taxi drivers continue.
In late January, a cabbie injured three people on the Upper East Side when he lost control of the car and ran onto a sidewalk, hitting a group of pedestrians, according to the New York Post. The victims were hospitalized with serious injuries but were expected to survive.
Others haven’t been so fortunate recently. In two Upper West Side accidents, pedestrians lost their lives after getting hit.
The 9-year-old son of renowned oncologist Dr. Richard Stock was killed in early January as the boy and his father crossed West End Avenue and 97th Street near his home. This happened only about 30 minutes after a 73-year-old man was hit and killed by a charter bus just two blocks away, at Broadway and West 96th Street.
Unless they’re charged with a crime, cabbies involved in fatal crashes can drive again in only one day, according to the Taxi and Limousine Commission. Even cabbies whose licenses are revoked can be reinstated after waiting three years.
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Cab drivers can be suspended if they accumulate points for speeding, running red lights or committing other violations. But if they are involved in a fatal accident without topping the TLC’s maximum number of point – six for a suspension, 10 for revocation – the driver could be behind the wheel again immediately.
In the last five years, only 874 cab drivers of the 51,340 licensed hacks in New York City have had their licenses revoked because of point infractions, The Post reported.
Amid public outrage, the Taxi and Limousine Commission is finally considering taking action to reduce the number of taxi crashes. For instance, a cab crash that kills or seriously injures a pedestrian could result in immediate suspension or revocation of the driver’s license while the crash is investigated, according to an agency spokesman. The agency is also considering creating a database to track cab-driver accidents.
Meanwhile, Mayor Bill de Blasio is initiating a Vision Zero plan designed to increase the commission’s role in eliminating cab-crash fatalities and improving safety on city streets.
Those are crucial steps toward protecting New York City pedestrians from dangerous cab drivers.
People who are injured in an accident involving a taxi should understand their legal options by talking with an auto accident lawyer. People harmed by a negligent cab driver may also have a right to file a civil lawsuit such as a personal injury lawsuit to cover medical expenses or a wrongful death lawsuit, if a loved one was killed in the accident.
Cab drivers who cause serious accidents through careless driving or disregard for the safety of other motorists can be held responsible for their actions.