Manhattan Institute for Policy Research.
search  
 
Subscribe   Subscribe   MI on Facebook Find us on Twitter Find us on Instagram      
 
 
   
 
     
 

New York Post

 

How Taxi Innovation Could Save Innocent Lives

February 02, 2014

By Nicole Gelinas

On Jan. 10, 9-year-old Cooper Stock was crossing in a crosswalk on the Upper West Side with his father — with the light — when a cab driver taking a left turn, Koffi Komlani, struck and killed the boy.

The city was outraged. But Komlani, who was cited only for "failure to yield" and given a fine of a couple hundred dollars, still has his hack’s license.

It’s a chilling example of how the deck is stacked against pedestrians in New York, and a lesson for Mayor de Blasio as he prepares to name a new Taxi & Limousine Commission chief.

Taxi drivers may not be the city’s only dangerous drivers, but they could be an example for safer streets.

"Safety should be the primary emphasis," Cooper’s uncle, Barron Lerner, says. The commissioner "needs to be a reformer."

There’s no reason that Komlani should still have his hack’s license. Though the TLC argues that "due process" and other legalisms prevent it from revoking the license of a driver who kills, professional drivers should be held to a higher standard — even if it takes a change in state law to better allow cops to make cases against drivers whose reckless behavior the police didn’t actually witness.

If you already ran a little boy over in a crosswalk, you shouldn’t be driving.

But punishing drivers after they kill is not enough. The TLC has the power to cut down on traffic deaths in the first place, using data.

Taxicabs "are roving computers that have endless capabilities," says Michael Woloz, who represents yellow medallion taxi companies. With "too many deaths on the street ... there’s a fresh way to look at this."

The TLC already collects data via GPS installed in every cab. It knows where a driver picks up a fare and drops the fare off.

The commission can already use that data to enforce, say, if a cab driver tries to wring more money from an unsuspecting tourist. What the TLC doesn’t do — yet — is use GPS or other technology to track bad behavior.

The TLC could require cab owners to install technology that tracks speed and other dangerous behavior.

It could also learn which intersections are the most dangerous. If drivers are speeding through certain intersections every day, the TLC could inform the NYPD — which could send out officers to give tickets.

At the same time, if drivers have to wait too long at certain intersections to turn, that’s a sign of bad street design. That data could go to the Department of Transportation, which can redesign intersections and light timing.

On-board cameras, too, could help after a crash. It could show whether a cab driver was distracted by a cellphone — or show whether another vehicle or pedestrian caused a crash.

Smart use of data could help change driver and passenger behavior, as well.

Bhairavi Desai, who represents taxi drivers, says that drivers slow down when they see a sign board on a street that tells them how fast they’re going versus the speed limit.

A big dashboard warning light telling cab drivers they are exceeding the speed limit by 10 mph — and perhaps simulating what would happen to a pedestrian who wandered into that path — could slow speeds.

And a similar back-seat dashboard could tell the passenger that a driver is driving dangerously, as well. It’s often passengers who try to bully cabdrivers into breaking the law — asking them to drive faster for a better tip because they’re in a hurry. That’s why they took a cab in the first place.

Over time, forcing cab drivers to slow down and be more careful would change other drivers’ behavior, too, especially in Manhattan.

That’s important, because cab drivers don’t cause most crashes. A 2010 city-wide report noted that "79% of crashes that kill or seriously injure pedestrians involve private automobiles as opposed to taxis, trucks and buses."

But if cabbies have to drive more carefully — because they know someone is watching them — other drivers will have to conform to the new pattern on the roadways, too.

Plus, drivers of private cars are likely to speed through the same intersections where cabbies regularly flout the law — and better data collection would allow the NYPD to better punish all bad drivers at those problem intersections, rather than just targeting cabbies.

As Desai notes, cab drivers trying to follow the law face a threat "from people that really speed past you," especially at night.

Of course, doing anything is likely to anger someone — or everyone — in an industry ruled by special interests from medallion owners to drivers. The taxi industry donated more than a quarter of a million dollars to de Blasio’s election campaign last year.

But as de Blasio picks a taxi commissioner, he shouldn’t think of the donors. He should keep in mind the counsel of Cooper’s uncle, Lerner.

"The Bloomberg example" in many departments, including the Department of Health, was "find[ing] people who are the best available people ... who are not beholden to interest groups. That seems to have been a pattern of success" in saving lives.

Original Source: http://nypost.com/2014/02/01/how-taxi-innovation-could-save-innocent-lives/

 

 
PRINTER FRIENDLY
 
LATEST FROM OUR SCHOLARS

‘Afroducking’ The Law: Deadly Excuses For Endangering Others
Nicole Gelinas, 11-17-14

2014’s Most Encouraging Democratic Victory
Daniel DiSalvo, 11-14-14

Bring Deferred Prosecution Agreements Out Of The Shadows
James R. Copland, 11-12-14

Coal Trumps IPCC, Again
Robert Bryce, 11-12-14

World Leaders, Ignore Obama And Do These Five Things Instead
Diana Furchtgott-Roth, 11-12-14

ACA Architect: ‘The Stupidity Of The American Voter’ Led Us To Hide ACA Costs
Avik Roy, 11-11-14

Cancer Drug Prices: A Convenient Scapegoat for a Complex Problem
Paul Howard, 11-11-14

A Supreme Court Case That Could Upend Obamacare
Diana Furchtgott-Roth, 11-11-14

 
 
 

The Manhattan Institute, a 501(c)(3), is a think tank whose mission is to develop and disseminate new ideas
that foster greater economic choice and individual responsibility.

Copyright © 2014 Manhattan Institute for Policy Research, Inc. All rights reserved.

52 Vanderbilt Avenue, New York, N.Y. 10017
phone (212) 599-7000 / fax (212) 599-3494