As Crash Victim Leaves Hospital, TLC Says It Ignored 4,500 Dangerous Drivers
After cabbie Mohammed Himon ran over English tourist Sian Green on a Sixth Avenue sidewalk, the city’s Taxi and Limousine Commission announced it would seek a 30-day license suspension for the driver, who already had nine points on his record from an injury-causing crash, speeding, and red light running. The suspension summons, which brought a guilty plea from Himon, raised a nagging question: Given that Himon had enough points from TLC to warrant suspension even before he hit Green, why hadn’t his driving privileges already been put on hold?
Today, we might have an answer to that question. For the past three years, TLC has let 4,500 dangerous drivers — half yellow cabbies, half black car drivers — slip through the cracks because the commission was incorrectly inputting drivers’ records from the state Department of Motor Vehicles into its database, according to the Wall Street Journal. Now, the commission says, data about the more than 100,000 active for-hire drivers and cabbies operating in New York will be transferred automatically from the DMV.
This week, TLC is issuing summonses to those 4,500 drivers, including 600 who had 10 or more points on their records and could have their licenses revoked. Drivers with between six and 10 points are eligible for suspension. Drivers in this category who should have received summonses more than a year ago will be able to avoid suspension by pleading guilty and paying a $100 fine. Drivers with violations from the past year will face either a 30-day suspension or a $1,000 fine, according to DNAinfo.
Taxi and Limousine Commissioner David Yassky told the WSJ that his staff would soon propose two rule changes to keep better tabs on dangerous drivers. One would assign points to the licenses of for-hire drivers who receive red light camera tickets. The DMV does not assign points for these tickets because the system can only verify a vehicle’s license plate and not the person driving, but TLC is seeking the change because its meters verify a driver’s identity when he or she gets behind the wheel. Update: TLC says this rule change would apply to speed camera tickets, as well.
TLC will also seek to have traffic violations issued by the commission’s own enforcement teams included in driver safety records. Currently, only violations issued by police are marked against a driver’s record.
These rule changes are likely to be some of Yassky’s last: Both major mayoral candidates, Democrat Bill de Blasio and Republican Joe Lhota, have said they do not plan on keeping him at TLC. Yesterday, DNAinfo reported that Yassky, whose term is set to expire in 2017, sent a memo to TLC staff saying that he plans to leave the post early next year.
Since February 2012, 10 people have been killed by the drivers of yellow cabs, and an additional eight people have been killed by the drivers of livery cabs, according to statistics compiled by Streetsblog.
As for the crash that injured Sian Green on a Midtown sidewalk, both NYPD’s Collision Investigation Squad and the Manhattan District Attorney’s Vehicular Crimes Unit launched investigations. Streetsblog has asked both NYPD and DA Cy Vance’s office about the status of those investigations. We have yet to receive a response from NYPD; Vance’s office declined to comment.
So far, no charges have been filed against Himon, who has only received a summons for “unauthorized use,” which the Daily News characterized as “an administrative violation for not submitting a form notifying the Taxi and Limousine Commission that he would be driving that particular cab.”
Out of the hospital for the first time in five weeks, Green talked with Matt Lauer on “Today” this morning. Sitting in a wheelchair, Green discussed the crash and her recovery after having her leg amputated. “We came here thinking we were going on a holiday,” she said. “It’s been a whirlwind and it’s turned upside-down.”
Himon’s 30-day suspension began more than a month ago. Streetsblog has asked TLC if Himon is once again driving a cab but has not yet received a reply. Update: TLC says Himon has not reclaimed his license.