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Car Accidents Could be Reduced with More Taxi Driver Training

Traffic in New York City, especially Manhattan, is usually a sea of yellow because of all the cabs crowding the city streets. Not surprisingly, many of the car accidents in Manhattan involve cabs. Overall in New York City, between eight and 10 percent of motor vehicle accidents involve yellow cabs and livery cabs. Even though this is a disproportionately low percentage of crashes, taxi accidents appear to cause more serious injuries than those involving other vehicles, perhaps because taxi drivers often operate faster than drivers of personal cars. And the proportion of taxis involved in traffic accidents appears to be inching up, according to statistics provided by New York State.

There are 40,000 licensed yellow taxi drivers and 70,000 livery cab drivers in the city.  These drivers operate 13,347 yellow cabs and 25,000 livery vehicles. In recent years there have been calls for better training and oversight of cab drivers, and the Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) took a small step toward improving safety for passengers, pedestrians and other motorists.

The improvement involves livery cab drivers, who until recently did not have to pass the TLC licensing exam before driving for hire on the streets of New York. Note: This is a written test.  The TLC still does not require any cab or livery driver to take a road test in New York.

The Taxi and Limousine Commission will close a loophole that allows livery drivers to operate with less training than yellow cab drivers, but the agency still has no plans to require road tests on actual New York City streets for any of the drivers it licenses. Drivers must have a hack license, which requires them to pass a road test somewhere in New York State. But they are not required to show that they know the city and can drive safely in some of the worst traffic in the United States.

Another proposed change would require drivers to complete more training in order to renew their licenses every two years. Currently, only those drivers with a record of moving violations are required to take these classes.  The proposed change would make these classes required for all drivers, not only those with violations. However, these are not taxi-specific classes, but classes open to all drivers who would like to lower their insurance rates.

These changes are the result of Mayor de Blasio's Vision Zero plan to eliminate pedestrian fatalities.  The mayor asked the TLC to implement more comprehensive training for new drivers and ongoing education for more experienced drivers.