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Drivers Who Cause Taxi Accidents May Face More Penalties

It's shocking. Most cab drivers in New York City who injure or kill pedestrians and passengers are still on the road.

The New York Post looked into 16 fatal or serious taxi accidents since 2009 and found that only two of the drivers had had their licenses revoked. Moreover, these drivers could be reinstated after as little as three years, according to the Taxi and Limousine Commission. (TLC)

When drivers are involved in fatal accidents, there are no penalties unless they are charged with crimes. They can be back on the streets the same day. And, as with other fatal accidents, cops seldom issue more than a traffic ticket unless they personally witness an accident.

There can be a penalty for cab drivers who break traffic laws, but it's usually cumulative and not related to a specific accident. The TLC can suspend a cab license for 30 days if a driver has six or more points for moving violations. The agency can revoke a license when a driver has more than 10 points.

However, revocation hardly ever happens. The Post found that only 874 drivers have had their hack licenses revoked since 2009 because they accumulated too many points. This represents about two percent of all cab drivers over seven years - a negligible number.

This may change. The TLC told Post investigators that the agency is looking at changing its rules so that drivers who kill pedestrians could face immediate suspension pending investigation. However, actually implementing a rule change like this may involve the New York State Legislature if not the NY City Council. The TLC apparently does not current keep and track accident data, but it may start doing so, another change brought on by increased scrutiny.

Mayor de Blassio's Vision Zero plan to eliminate traffic fatalities may strengthen the ability of the TLC to keep bad cab drivers off the streets.

Source: New York Post, "Cabbies who kill or maim in NYC keep licenses, return to work," Feb. 9, 2014.