Saturday, 6 December 2008


Let me precede this item on NYC Yellow Cabs, by confirming that my experiences of them have, with the exception of just one irritant/puzzlement, been excellent. The drivers are generally most courteous (if you are to them - fair enough), have good knowledge of New York City, and in comparison with my nearest large city at home London, compare most favorably cost-wise.

And my bone of contention? Widespread usage of cell phones by the drivers whilst the taxi is in motion. The growth in this potentially dangerous bad habit has been increasing over the past few years and has now reached the point where a driver not on a cell phone when carrying a fare is the exception rather than the rule. Many of them are on the phone when they pick you up and are still engrossed when they set you down. Considering NYC presents one of the most challenging and difficult driving terrains just about anywhere in the world, it is mind-blowingly disconcerting to have to sit behind a driver gossiping into a cell phone, and therefore not giving his full attention to the road ahead or traffic and pedestrians around them.

The New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission, the agency which is legally responsible for licensing and regulating all NYC's yellow cabs and others, expressly prohibits (although not seemingly enforcing) the use of cell phones (Driver Rule 2-25h) and also the use of 'hands-free headsets.' The situation is getting worse - during a yellow cab journey in October 2008, I heard an incoming call tone from somewhere in the front of the cab, and the driver who had been continuously on a cell phone since picking me up said to whoever he was talking to "Hang on a minute, my other phones ringing," and proceeded to have a conversation with the second phone.

What fascinates me is what they find to talk about for all of that time and whether the fares they earn are outstripping their cell phone call charges?

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