The Taxi and Limousine Commission’s 2014 Taxi Fact Book [PDF], released at the end of the Bloomberg administration, includes facts and figures on almost everything taxi- or livery-related, from trip length to passenger demographics. But there’s one important thing the report fails to mention: driver safety.
Cab crashes account for some significant share of traffic violence in NYC. While that information should be quantified in the fact book, New Yorkers only have an impression of cab safety from their personal experiences and media reports of crashes. In November, for instance, a woman standing on an East Harlem sidewalk was killed after a cabbie ran a red light, crashing into a box truck. In September, a high-profile crash in which a tourist sitting on a Midtown sidewalk lost her leg led the TLC to divulge that it had bungled its record-keeping for the driver, who had a history of violations, along with 4,500 other hacks.
Licensed taxi drivers only have to take the TLC exam once, and must complete a six-hour course certified by the state Department of Motor Vehicles on defensive driving. (These courses are open to the public and can reduce insurance premiums and the number of points on a drivers license.) Cabbies looking to renew their licenses must have taken the defensive driving course within the past three years [PDF].
The latest fact book is the first update since a similar report in 2006 produced for the TLC by Schaller Consulting [PDF], which featured an entire section on crashes, showing where they occurred and how many resulted in injuries. The only safety-related information in the latest fact book involves passenger seat belt usage and vehicle inspections — but nothing on driver education, behavior, or crashes.
A section on cab safety could show how the extent of traffic crashes and injuries involving TLC-licensed drivers has changed over time. It would also be helpful for New Yorkers to see how these rates compare to peer cities like London, where cab driver training is far more rigorous and cabbies are consistently rated the best in the world.
Streetsblog asked TLC why it skimped on these facts. “There’s no compelling reason it wasn’t included other than that, in the interest of time/space, we obviously couldn’t include everything,” Deputy Commissioner for Policy and Planning Ashwini K. Chhabra said in an e-mail. “Given that we now know this information would be informative to some segment of the public, we’ll be sure to address it in subsequent iterations of the fact book,” he said, adding that TLC hopes to update the document annually.