Amid concerns of driver fatigue, the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) has introduced limits on the number of hours a TLC driver can be on the road in a given day or week.
This change comes in an attempt to decrease the number of accidents that are seen due to driver fatigue and to make the taxi driving industry safer.
The new rules would apply to all of the 140,000 drivers licensed by the commission, including taxi drivers, limousine drivers, black car drivers, and also Uber and Lyft drivers.
Mayor Bill de Blasio and the TLC Commissioner Meera Joshi pushed the proposal ahead just months after the death of an 88-year old grandmother that was due to driver fatigue. Luisa Rosario died when taxi driver Salifu Abubkar struck her while driving on the Upper West Side. While Abubkar had taken breaks during his shift, he was on the road for 16 hours at the time of the accident.
“It’s pretty much common sense but it’s also backed up by a lot of research that the longer you’re driving, your level of alertness decreases,” said TLC chair Joshi.
The commission found that in 2014 and 2015, the crash rate for taxi drivers working more than 12 hours a day was 23.8 percent higher than those who drove 12 hours or less.
The new rules would take effect on November 1, and would consist of the following:
-Prohibiting all TLC drivers from picking up passengers for more than 12 hours in any 24-hour period, and more than 72 hours in any seven-day period.
-Allowing a driver who has gone eight or more consecutive hours without pick-ups to “re-set” his or her 12-hour work clock and begin making pick-ups again.
Breaking the rules will lead to a $75 fine for a first offense, and additional occurrences lead to high penalties and a 15-day suspension.
Other large cities have adopted similar regulations. Chicago limits taxi drivers to 12 hours of driving. Similarly, drivers in Los Angeles are capped at 10 hours.
While drivers see the need for longer hours in order to make ends meet, the TLC wants to prevent any additional accidents and mistakes due to sleepiness and chronically fatigued driving.
“Drivers don’t choose to work long hours, they do it out of necessity because of the economic desperation,” said Bhairavi Desai, head of the New York Taxi Workers Alliance.
Instead of driving limits and penalties, she wanted the TLC to focus on implementing other changes to help drivers earn a better living so they don’t have to exhaust themselves with such long shifts. Some ideas were to decrease car leasing costs and mandatory fare minimums.
YellowCabNYCTaxi.com Staff Writer