The Reported App is Reducing Repeatedly Reckless Taxi Driving

A new study by the four-year-old smartphone tool shows that 96 percent of drivers who get a complaint don't get a second one.

This is the last thing we want to see. Video still: ABC7
This is the last thing we want to see. Video still: ABC7

The best tool for preventing reckless drivers from repeatedly endangering pedestrians and cyclists is right there in your pocket.

Reported, the smartphone app that lets New Yorkers instantly report taxi drivers for breaking the rules, claims that of the 5,200 drivers reported to the Taxi and Limousine Commission through the app since 2016, only 4 percent have been the subject of a second complaint.

That’s just one of the findings from app creator Jeff Novich’s end-of-year review. Other findings include:

  • The vast majority of complaints to Reported come from cyclists reporting either a blocked bike lane (64 percent of complaints) or a blocked crosswalk (20 percent of complaints). Other large segments of the complaints were for reckless driving (11 percent) and for illegal parking (5 percent).
  • The Lower East Side led with the most complaints (819, or 27 percent of the total) with Downtown Brooklyn in second with 592 complaints.
  • Fifteen reports were issued for NYPD cars blocking bike lanes.
  • Eighty-three percent of drivers submitted to Reported had at least one driving violation on their record already. Most had been caught speeding in school zones or running red lights.
  • App-based for-hire vehicles such as  Uber, Lyft and Via chalked up 78 percent of complaints against TLC vehicles, even though such vehicles represent only 71 percent of the overall taxi fleet. The remaining 22 percent of complaints were made against old school black car companies as Dial7 or Arecibo or medallion cabbies, which comprise 29 percent of the entire taxi fleet.

Overall, a Reported filing leads to a summons against the driver 97 percent of the time. Sixty percent pay this summons right away, while 40 percent will challenge the complaint before a judge. Half of those who challenge the summons are found guilty — and then pay double the original summons — the statistics show.

In 2018, Reported users filed 3,800 TLC complaints, generating roughly $380,000 in revenue for the city. The Taxi and Limousine Commission says it appreciates the reports even more than the cash.

“Anything that makes a driver think twice about risking someone’s safety with a reckless or irresponsible action is a tool we value,” said TLC spokesman Allan Fromberg.

Novich said the TLC has been supportive and helpful in all the cases Reported has brought to them.

Source: Reported
Source: Reported

“The attorneys there take these complaints seriously, they act on them,” he said. “The TLC should be a model for other city agencies in terms of how to engage constructively with residents.”

Roughly 20 percent of Reported complaints are against non-TLC-regulated vehicles — but those complaints go to 311 and are rarely acted upon because the offender is usually gone within seconds.

But regardless of the final punishment, the complaints themselves reveal just how little regard some drivers have for cyclists, who make up 70 percent of all Reported complainants, and pedestrians, who comprise the rest.

“Driver pulled sharply into bike lane directly in front of cyclist almost causing him to crash and forcing him to squeeze between a large truck,” reads an Aug. 6 report, one that is typical of the thousands received by the app.

App creator Novich said he’s proud of the low recidivism rate for TLC-regulated cars through Reported — but knows the app could do much more with more users.

“There are probably 10,000-times more violations going on every day that are unreported and [Reported comprises] a small group of people are filing these only when they directly encounter [violations], but I think the 4 percent would stay low even at scale,” said Novich. “We can use speed ticket data as a proxy. The vast majority of drivers who get a speeding ticket do not get another one.”
  • crazytrainmatt

    Everyone here who wants to see some change on the streets should download this app and start filling out reports. We gripe a lot in the comments here about dangerous behavior on the streets but Jeff has created a super-simple platform with a lot of potential leverage. Even if the non-TLC 311 complaints go nowhere right now, it’s easy to submit them in the hope that the record will get too big to ignore. Think of it as crowdsourced red light cameras.

    In my experience:
    – While TLC will prosecute cases based solely on your testimony, violations with clear photo evidence (blocked bike lane, parking violation showing the sign, blocking the box with the traffic signal in-frame) go much more smoothly. I generally submit cases without photos only when a driver does something egregious.
    – Fines used to be paid much more quickly. Starting this summer, many more drivers serially postpone hearing dates. They generally don’t show and request a new date (or they show up and reschedule once the TLC tells them the witness is available). They eventually pay the fine.
    – The hearings are all over the place, even when there is a clear photo showing the violation. Sometimes the judge is generally curious about the situation, other times they are quite lenient with the driver. I figure that even if the driver wins the case, it’s enough of a hassle that they might think twice next time.

  • Downloaded. Time has come for a reckoning.

  • Brad Sutton

    I’ve yet to be contacted by TLC since I started using the app last month and now reports are starting to be past due from the 30 day timeline. Is it possible TLC has a major backlog due to all the new reports coming in?

  • qrt145

    I haven’t measured the time rigorously, but in my experience, by the time they contact me I had already forgotten about my claim. 🙂 But eventually, they do! I didn’t use the app, but the 311 website, but I don’t think that should matter. For what it is worth, the driver pled guilty every time (I used photographic evidence).

  • Joseph R.

    You can also report via the 311 website: https://www1.nyc.gov/nyc-resources/service/2599/yellow-taxi-complaint

    I upload all my rides from my GoPro, so it’s easier to file things through the website — But the Reported app is still great and has a way better UI if you’re doing things from your phone.

  • Adrian Horczak

    When I started using the app, I was not contacted for months. Then as I began using it regularly, they were reaching out to me within a week after a complaint. I guess it’s like being a loyal customer.

  • Thanks for the post, Ben & Streetsblog! Please follow us on twitter https://twitter.com/reported_NYC/ Reach out if you have any questions.

  • crazytrainmatt

    The process can drag on so I’ve gotten pretty good at quickly putting enough detail into the report to jog my memory in case it does go to a hearing months later. Taking a single photo showing a clear plate/medallion number and relevant traffic control devices goes a long way. It’s helpful to add succinct details about what you and the driver were each doing to establish during testimony that you are a reliable witness. The reported app makes it very easy for you to call these details up again as cases move through the system. I also suspect the TLC prioritizes clear-cut reports and known reliable witnesses (they lose the case if the witness doesn’t show up).

  • NYC Driver

    Let me explain how oppressive this system is. Nobody is asking the real questions here. EVERY other type of car in NYC are not subject to any of these oversight violations. Taxis/Fhvs are the ONLY cars that can get a violation by the public initiating the claim. If a reader didn’t know much better they would conclude that taxis make up the bulk of these violations. They’re just beating up on an unprotected population of drivers (usually immigrants who aren’t fully aware of their rights.) What this (bias) article didn’t mention is that majority of bicyclists complaints came from a very small group of bicyclists whose job is to submit a complaint every day. The bicyclists know that if they try to take a picture of a regular private car on the bike lane nothing would be done by the dmv. This is true for ALL other cars in NYC: private cars, buses, delivery trucks, buses can do these violations. They can break the rules with impunity and no action would be taken against them. Again, ONLY taxis/fhvs are subject to these violations. Are they the only or majority violators: not by a long shot. The city is using this as a way to take money from them. No wonder drivers are committing suicide at alarming rates.

    If you don’t believe me (mostly bicyclists) take a video of your commute and submit the raw clip and let the public see who REALLY are the worse violators of these issues.

    Also- I spoke to a representative from the TLC. Their claim is that drivers who gave proof of dropping off/picking up a passenger and they’re given a violation that violation would be dismissed. The takeaway here is that a taxi CAN temporarily stop on a bike lane just so long they have proof it was work related. I asked him if they were helping a customer unload bags would it be excused? He answered “yes.” I then asked if if the taxi driver was unloading his personal bags from food shopping would his ticket be dismissed? The answer was NO. Double standards?

    In the future if I ever get a passenger whose destination just happens to be on a bicycle lane block I will drive a few blocks away until I find a legal zone to drop them off at- I’m sure the public would LOVE that. Food for thought- under the strict rules of the law a taxi is not even allowed to double park to pick up or drop off- yet 99.9% of all taxi rides in NYC operates like that.

    Don’t let “the numbers” fool you all. It’s all about the representation. There’s an agenda of beating up on taxi drivers in NYC because they’re not savvy enough to defend themselves.

  • NYC Driver

    Lol I took a picture of a TLC car going around my double parked car. In doing so he was on the bike lane. So the still photo zoomed in only showing the tlc car in the bike lane (and zoomed in so you couldn’t see my car which was the reason he went on the bike lane.) Of course he got the ticket and I get to feel better about my shitty life causing an unprotected worker losing more money. Hope he commits suicide and his family does of hunger.

  • NYC Driver

    Wow. My post going against this witch Hunt got taken down. Way to go guys. You’re a beacon of truth

  • Mortal Wombat

    We get the strawman you’ve created here, but you seem like a right asshole.
    “Taxis should be allowed to drive in bike lanes because other cars double park, and taxis are in a hurry.”

  • NYC Driver

    I rather be an asshole than a beta soy boy idiot. No one said taxis should drive in bike lanes. You’re saying that because you’re a typical cheerleader trying to get a few rahs.

    When you learn reading comprehension and can reply accurately to my post I might take you seriously.

    Sometimes I wish I have the choice of which bicyclist dies by getting hit by a dump truck. You, definitely, are competing for 1st place.

    Until then – F off loser.

  • Mortal Wombat

    You created a strawman for yourself to mock where the scenario was a poor put-upon taxi driver who drove in a bike lane to go around a double-parked car.
    It’s all right there. Take a moment to re-read your garbage for yourself:
    “…TLC car going around my double parked car. In doing so he was on the bike lane….”
    And I apologize for underestimating just how extreme and enormous an asshole you are. I promise that won’t happen again.

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