TLC Fact Book Excludes Facts About Crashes or Driver Safety Training

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.

Fun facts about taxis -- but unlike in past years, nothing about driver safety. Image: TLC
Fun facts about taxis — but unlike in past reports, nothing about driver safety. Image: TLC

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.

  • qrt145

    If the problem was space constraints, I’d rather have safety data instead of dubious trivia about passengers!

  • Robert Wright

    This attitude does seem of a piece with my recent experience of complaining to the TLC about a dangerous driver. Furnished with an exact time, location and license number for a vehicle, they claimed not to be able to identify who was driving it (very badly) at the time in question.

  • stevecrowell

    They steer away from safety topics because the partition requirement is responsible for so much injury and death.

    “Those partitions create a plastic surgeons’ dream.” Jack
    Lusk – NYC TLC Chairman 1988-1991

    “It’s a significant safety hazard,” said
    Dr. Jesse Taylor, a Plastic Surgeon at The Hospital of the University of
    Pennsylvania, who operated on Marc Summers. He’s seeing a growing number of injuries,
    related to cab partitions.

    Dr. Rahul Sharma,
    NYUMC – has worked in several city
    emergency rooms, is all too familiar with the
    damage the anti-crime partitions, required since 1994, can cause. “Ask
    any ER doc in Manhattan, and they will tell you they see it very frequently,”
    he said. “People have a false sense of security in the backseat of a cab.”

    Dr. Gary Sbordone – Massachusetts Chiropracter – “Could cause complex spinal injuries.”

    Dr. Geoffrey Doughlin – E.R. Director, Jamaica Hospital –
    ‘Since the partitions act as a second windshield, back seat passengers fall
    victim to the same type of injuries as people in the front passenger position,
    the “suicide seat,” ‘

    Dr. Gregory Husk – Chairman of Emergency Medicine, Beth
    Israel Medical Center, “You can’t do this kind of work (Emergency Medicine)
    without being impressed that the taxicab partition breaks a lot of noses, a lot
    of lips, a lot of chins.”

    Dr. John Sherman – Assistant Clinical Professor of Surgery,
    New York Hospital, New York City – “The results are uniformly disastrous:
    patients with head wounds from dividers, fractured noses, lacerations and
    worse. Last month I saw two patients die
    from taxi-related injuries.”

  • stevecrowell

    “This is a New York City tragedy and
    public health issue that has not changed in almost two decades,” Dr. Lewis
    Goldfrank, chairman of emergency medicine at Bellevue Hospital and NYU Langone
    Medical Center told the Daily news. “We don’t have a good system to count them,
    but there isn’t a week that goes by that we don’t see at least two patients
    with these terrible injuries.”

    Dr. Arnold Komisar,
    Dr. Stanley Blaugrund and Dr. Martin Camins – Lenox Hill Hospital, NYC –
    “Every emergency room in New York is seeing patients injured in taxicabs:
    three here, four there, six at another hospital, so it’s easy to underestimate
    the problem,”

    Dr. Stephen Pearlman – Upper East Side facial plastic and
    reconstructive surgeon – “Gaping soft tissue injuries are also prevalent, since
    an edge of a partition’s sliding door or its metal track can tear the skin.”
    “In the most severe instances, this causes “almost an avulsion” of
    the nose.”

    Dr. Paul Lorenc – NYC Plastic Surgeon “Crushed noses,
    fractured cheekbones and eye sockets, and “stellate,” or burst
    lacerations, are among the most common injuries suffered when a passenger is
    hurled into the clear partition.”

    Dr. Kai Sturmann – Acting Chairman, Emergency Department,
    Beth Israel – “I would like to see back-seat air bags.”

  • stevecrowell

    Dr. Marc Melrose – Emergency Physician, Beth Israel Medical
    Center, Manhattan – “Cabs don’t have to get into an accident for people to
    be hurt. The cab stops short and you go flying into the screen with the handles
    and bolts and that metal change thing. It’s dangerous.”

    Dr. Talmor, Dr.
    Barie, Dr. Shapiro and Dr. Hoffman, Department of Surgery, New York
    Hospital-Cornell Medical Center, NY. In 1996 four surgeons from the Department
    of Surgery, New York Hospital-Cornell Medical Center released a report, this is
    a review of it.

    “Craniofacial
    injuries resulting from taxicab accidents in New York City”

    Taxicab
    accidents are a common occurrence in New York City. This review was undertaken
    to characterize the nature of craniofacial injuries that result from taxicab
    accidents

    Data
    were collected on 16 patients who required admission to trauma or plastic and
    reconstructive surgery services, after sustaining craniofacial injury as a
    result of a taxicab accidents.

    Front-end
    deceleration collisions were the most common mechanism of injury.

    Fifty-six
    percent of the patients were thrown against the bulletproof, Plexiglas driver
    safety divider and sustained an injury most commonly to the anterior midface.

    Both
    bony and soft tissue injuries were common in the entire group.

    “Given the high incidence of craniofacial injury,
    appropriate safety standards for taxicabs must be initiated, including the
    reevaluation of the utility of the safety divider”

  • stevecrowell

    Dr. Elizabeth M. Whelan, ACSH (American Council on Science
    and Health) President, “The deaths and injuries attributed to taxicab accidents
    are highly preventable.

    Dr. Ralph Upchurch, chief of emergency medicine at
    Somerville Hospital, said not wearing a seatbelt in the back seat of a cab can
    be especially dangerous because of the plastic divider between the front and
    back seats.

    Dr. Seth Manoach, lead author of the report, said ‘The plexiglas partition that seperates the
    front and back of the cab, protruding change dish, and metal border can cause
    serious injury in an accident.’ He urged taxi passengers to buckle up “Sit
    in one of the seats with shoulder and lap belts. The middle seats don’t have
    them and during a front-end collision, your head is going to come forward and
    hit the barrier.”

    From – 12/29/98 New YorkTimes article about zero seat belt
    usage observed by N.Y. Univer. Research Team findings 4/97-8/97

    Diane McGrath-McKechnie, Chairwoman of the NYC Taxi and
    Limousine Commission – “The experience of New York City absolutely does not
    support the notion that partitions have increased the number of passenger
    injuries.” “We are well aware of the potential dangers of passengers not
    wearing their seat belts hitting partitions in short-stop circumstances.”

    “As officer safety and wellness
    is of the utmost importance to the International Asssn. Of Chiefs of Police you
    can be sure that we will continue to study all aspects of this issue.” Erin Vermilye 2/25/2013

    Frank Armstrong, Motor Vehicle Safety Compliance Enforcement
    Section Director, 6/22/84 “Dear
    Sir: It has come to the attention of this office that you may be in violation
    of the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 1966 by the manner in
    which you are installing partitions in taxicabs and/or police cruisers.“

    Matthew Daus – TLC Chairman – “These cars and the partitions
    that are in them are 100 percent safe,”

  • jooltman

    “…we now know this information would be informative to some segment of the public…,” like every New Yorker who walks on the sidewalk and crosses the street?

  • stevecrowell

    Inside the cab is the most dangerous place in NYC.A sudden stop,a pothole or a crash can knockout your teeth or even kill you.

  • JK

    Medallion and borough cabs should be required to have dashboard cams and onboard data recorders (blackboxes.) What is the excuse? Since 2000, the TLC has required livery cabs to have interior cameras to deter robberies. It’s now 2014 and cabbies continue their reign of speeding and reckless driving terror on city streets. Medallions sell for more than $1 million each. They cost this because the city caps their numbers, and the industry is highly regulated — including the type of vehicles that can be used. Yet, no blackbox and no cameras that could help safe lives. Disgraceful

  • stevecrowell

    They don’t have cameras facing the passengers behind partitions, because the footage of people hitting their faces into the edges and protrusions would be too gruesome to watch.

  • JoshNY

    What’s with all the yammering about partitions?

  • stevecrowell

    Do you have some use for a partition in a cab? It makes no sense when they just shoot around it.

  • Abie

    There are over 50,000 for hire vehicles on the streets of NYC, taxis included. But if you divided the number of accidents by the number of all vehicles on the streets you will probably find that the proportion of accidents is less with the for hire vehicles. THERE IS PLENTY OF BLAME TO GO AROUND, AND THAT INCLUDES ALL THE BICYCLES. It’s time for the bikes to start obeying the rules of the road. It’s time for the bikes to obtain insurance and be identified with license plates!

  • Eric Cramer

    Go hit a concrete wall and die.

  • Abie

    Eric, that’s brilliant. I can see your IQ is rising above 30

  • Eric Cramer

    30 points above yours.Yes, I know.

  • Pro

    By far the safest mode of transportation. By far.

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