NBC 5 news in Chicago did a short investigation on last night’s news about cab drivers and red-light camera violations. Apparently the violations aren’t seen as moving violations since the driver of a car cannot be identified. Therefore, cab drivers can stay on the streets with many violations – the same cab drivers that have killed people.
You don’t have to walk much in Chicago (or really any major city) to see firsthand the dangerous driving by cab drivers. Every morning on my way to work I see streams of fast-moving, lane-switching cabs zooming to Union Station, ignoring yellow lights and driving through crosswalks full of pedestrians.
I can’t find a way to embed the video right now, so here is a link: Loophole Lets Cited Cabbies Keep on Driving.
I’m not a policy expert, but I like throwing ideas out there. Governments already regulate cabs – why not regulate the speed of cabs, limiting them to the speed limit of the street they’re on? The GPS technology certainly exists (at least enough to distinguish freeways from city streets). Why not try random surveillance of cabs in busy areas using existing cameras? Or installing devices to track the driving habits of cab drivers?
We’ve all experienced our share of bad drivers, but taxis seem to have a higher rate of recklessness. With the incentive to get passengers to their destination quickly so as to increase revenues (and gratuities), speed is key. The Chicago Pedestrian Plan (page 47) lists “Encourage Chicago taxi drivers to be the safest in the country.” I don’t think the answer is education programs. It’s enforcement of existing laws and innovation of new restrictions and surveillance programs. Fortunately, integration of technology tools and incentive programs for taxi drivers are published “milestones” in the Pedestrian Plan.
Time to treat reckless drivers, especially cab drivers, as the danger they are to our streets and our people.