Crackdown on chatty hacks
Time to quiet down, cabbies.
Taxi officials approved a sweeping crackdown of cellphone usage for hacks yesterday, promising an end to dangerous chatty drivers once and for all.
After the unanimous vote by the Taxi and Limousine Commission, the regulations will go into effect in mid-January.
Newly forbidden will be the use of any electronic device while cabs are in motion, and drivers who disobey the law will be hit with strict penalties — including license suspension on “strike two” and revocation on the “strike three.”
“This will go a long way in eradicating the problem of distracted driving that exists today among our driver licensees. This was a major victory for the riding and walking public,” said TLC Commissioner Matthew Daus.
Current laws ban only talking on cellphones.
Even the most popular hack trick — keeping a hands-free device in an ear and claiming it’s “turned off” — will now be a no-no.
Hacks and industry advocates claimed the rules will keep drivers in the dark on family matters.
Cabby Razza Abbasi, 47, has been driving for six years.
“I cannot get in touch with my family until the end of my shift,” said Abbasi, a father of four.
“It’s definitely not fair. If there’s an emergency in my family, I can’t get in touch with them.”
Also banned is any device capable of making non-emergency calls, texting, playing music, and taking pictures while the cab is in motion.
Drivers even have to turn off touch-screen GPS devices unless they’re voice-activated.
Hacks have to be fully parked to use a cellphone — and being stopped at a red light doesn’t apply.
And all drivers of all vehicles regulated by the TLC, including taxis, liveries, limousines and commuter vans, have to adhere to the regulations.