According to a Wall Street Journal, concern is growing regarding fatigue among New York City taxi cab drivers in the face of stiff competition from app-driven companies, causing them to work more hours and potentially having an impact on traffic safety.
The change and its impact has been rapid. As recently as 2013, the most recent data publicly available, about 403 yellow taxi drivers per day in New York City worked more than 15 hours without taking a break for at least three hours. On average, it was reported that in 2013 the average yellow-cab drivers’ shift was 7.3 hours long, and 53 percent were between 6 and 10 hours long.
However, it seems that with the recent advent of new cab companies such as Uber, Lyft, and Via, the yellow and green taxicabs of New York City are finding it more difficult to pick up the same amount of passengers per day as before. Drivers resort to longer hours with less breaks to make up the difference in income. Iqbal Singh, a yellow-taxi driver from Queens, is a perfect example of the need for longer hours to meet prior income levels. A few years ago Mr. Singh only worked about 9 hours per day, but now with the growing competition, he works approximately 12 hours per day.
Although many understand the need of drivers to earn enough income, what is of more concern is that when drivers are overworked and tired, they are more likely to have an accident while driving. Under New York City Rule Chapter 2 §2-23, taxi cab drivers are not allowed to drive more than 12 consecutive hours. The Wall Street Journal reported that after the taxi commission researched the enforcement of §2-23, no summons for violating this rule could be found. If not enforced, taxi drivers will most likely not abide by the rule. This can result in deadly accidents, such as the November 2015 accident when a New York City taxi driver hit a pedestrian and killed them. It was alleged that the taxi driver had been driving for more than 15 hours straight at the time of the accident. The yellow cab that he was driving was leased for a 24 hour time period, and the driver stated that he did take breaks and was not fatigued when he struck the pedestrian.
To remedy fatal car accidents, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that in 2016 $115 million in new capital will be invested into his Vision Zero program. Vision Zero was created to target the causes of fatal accidents in New York City, and then find solutions. Some of the solutions already implemented include better engineering of city streets, more enforcement, including the use of traffic cameras, and the creation of a Taxi and Limousine Commission Safety Honor Role. The safety honor roll recognizes licensed drivers who in a given period have no crashes, no traffic violations, and no rule violations. In 2015, five yellow taxi fleets and fifteen car service bases were honored, setting an example for all other taxi cab drivers.
If you or a loved one have been injured in an auto accident, contact an experienced personal injury attorney. A skilled attorney will protect your legal rights and can help you and your family receive the compensation you deserve. Call Georgaklis & Mallas PLLC at (718) 238-2400 or (212) 779-2400.