Taxi Drivers Demand Justice for Mir Hossain, Killed by Speeding Driver

Sajjad Matin, left, whose left leg was amputated after he was hit by a drunk driver, speaks about his roommate Mir Hossain, who was killed by a speeding driver over the weekend. Taxi and Limousine Commissioner David Yassky, right, listens on. Photo: Stephen Miller

Early Sunday morning, Mir Hossain, 35, was standing next to his double-parked cab on East 26th Street between Third and Lexington Avenues when a speeding SUV driver rear-ended his taxi, sending him flying to the pavement and killing him.

This afternoon, the New York Taxi Workers Alliance held a memorial at the site of the crash, joined by, among others, Taxi and Limousine Commissioner David Yassky and Paul Steely White of Transportation Alternatives.

Hossain’s roommate Sajjad Matin, himself a cab driver, fought back tears as he spoke about his friend. Overcome by grief, he left halfway through his remarks. In February 2012, Matin was pinned by a drunk driver on Eighth Avenue near 51st Street as he was unloading a passenger’s luggage from his car’s trunk. His left leg was amputated and he remained in a medically-induced coma for weeks.

Saying that “an injury to one is an injury to all,” transportation analyst Charles Komanoff cited his research in “Killed by Automobile” showing that taxi drivers are some of New York’s safest drivers per mile driven, yet face big risks due to long shifts and time getting into and out of vehicles on the street.

“Our streets can give us better, and if we work together with transit activists, taxi drivers, pedestrians, bicyclists and the city of New York, we believe we can make the streets safer for all of us,” said Bhairavi Desai, executive director of the Taxi Workers Alliance. “The design of the streets and the allocation of space should be respectful of everybody who needs to use it, including taxi drivers.”

Although she counted herself among the city’s advocates for safer streets today, Desai has a history of MTA-bashing and skepticism of camera enforcement, and told Streetsblog this afternoon that she thought the city already had speed cameras.

The driver who killed Hossain told police his accelerator got stuck and is not expected to face any charges. “A lot of private motorists, they don’t know what the speed limits are,” Desai said.

Mamun Hossain, Mir’s brother, was also on hand and expressed his frustration with the lack of accountability for dangerous drivers. “Where is the justice?” he asked. “This man is free. Why?”

“Shame on the NYPD!” attendees chanted later.

“We want to know that there has been a fair and proper investigation,” Desai said. “Unless they’re drunk, nothing much seems to happen.”

  • vnm

    Welcome Bhairavi Desai to the safe streets movement!

    “The accelerator got stuck.”  
    The car can’t talk to refute that and say something like, “no it didn’t, the driver momentarily wedged his foot in the wrong way while he was adjusting his sitting position.” 

    Do cars have black boxes?  If the accelerator really did get stuck, maybe the automaker is at fault for this death and his family can get some measure of comfort knowing precisely why this happened.

    None of this will be known if they don’t even bother to do an investigation.

  • moocow

    I am sorry for this man and his friend who was killed, I can’t believe these tragic stories are less than a year apart.
    BUT, there is quite a bit cabbies could do to improve our and their own safety. 
    Some one said it here I believe, that yellow cabs set the tone on City streets. 11 thousand  underpaid and overtired vulture like cabbies set a scary low bar for other drivers in NYC.  Imagine if cabs actually drove the speed limit, it would drag everyone else down somewhere near a legal and safe velocity.

  • Anonymous

    Man, if I had a nickel for every time a cab pushed me out of my lane while I maintained speed with traffic . . .  

  • Anonymous

    My comment below doesn’t really capture their hypocritical position. 

    When it’s my life on the road, livery and cab drivers do not give a flying f— about me.   Perhaps that’s why their new found self-righteousness offends me so much. 

    If the TLC had any iota of how indifferent “some of their drivers”  can be to bikes and peds . . .   I’ve had a livery driver run me off the road, slow down, and when I caught up with him, he spit in my face.  

    They’re still better than access-a-rides.

  • I’d love to think that cab drivers are horrible, insensitive jerks but i know can’t actually be true.  Taxi drivers just sit at the confluence of forces that encourage incredibly dangerous behavior and reward excessive risk taking.  Nobody wants to lose a potential fare to another driver who pushed harder on the accelerator. For cab drivers working long hours for low pay, the world is zero-sum – someone is in their cab paying money or not. 

    But what drives me nuts is watching cab drivers jockey for position in ways that are not only unhelpful to the taxi driver but also to every other nearby driver – not to mention dangerous for nearby pedestrians and cyclists. I watched the driver of a taxi attempt to cross four lanes of traffic to pick up a fare by slowly inching into the intersection during a red light, where he wound up blocking traffic in two directions for two light cycles.  I’ve watched cab drivers try to use empty loading zones pass vehicles on the right, only to fail and wind up merging into traffic exactly where they were before.  

    These drivers spend more time on the road than anyone else and somehow they have yet to figure out that they are not capable of beating midtown traffic?  

  • Brownstone

     Yassky could do a lot if he would just ensure that his TLC hearing officers (the traffic judges at TLC) actually knew and understood traffic law. 

    The two hearing officers I dealt with were clueless about cyclists rights to the road, particularly if the cyclist was actually riding in the right lane and waiting in line to make a right turn.  They not only don’t protect the public from taxi, limo and handicapped van operators, they don’t protect their own drivers if they give out wrong information.  And Yassky, like all other city administrators, won’t take on Ray Kelly and the NYPD for malfeasance and nonfeasance – when their own taxi drivers are being killed and the cops frankly don’t give a damn.

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