Yesterday's new statewide crackdown on cell phone use among taxi drivers had city cabs very very quiet. The expensive new penalty for use of a mobile phone (even with a hands-free attachment) or other personal electronic gadget including a gaming device and music player is $200. Most weren’t willing to risk it; by Friday afternoon traffic cops had dispensed just 13 summonses and passengers were pleased about the quiet new riding environment. But city cabbies were saying it was a bad call.
"This is ludicrous," one driver told the NY Post. "These are the types of laws you only see in Russia and China." The regulations also govern other city chauffeurs including livery cab, commuter van, and paratransit drivers. In addition to the fine, verbose vehicle operators will have to take a safety course. There will be a 30-day suspension for two violations and loss of license for three violations in 15 months. "That's hefty," Fernando Tineo, told the Daily News. "You'll see drivers crying."
In spite of the tears, the city is patting itself on the back. "There seems to be massive compliance, but we're not declaring victory just yet," said Taxi and Limousine Commission chief Matt Daus. Passengers are relieved too: "cabdrivers are perfectly capable enough of terrifying their passengers without using their cell phones," noted one man hailing a cab in midtown.