Making sure drivers are operating safely and trying to improve drivers' working conditions are not mutually exclusive. That New Yorkers should have to choose between the livelihoods of drivers and safe streets is a false dilemma.
While we strongly commend sincere efforts to improve conditions for taxi workers, Council Member Ruben Diaz Sr.'s move to gut the Taxi and Limousine Commission’s Critical Driver Program would have irresponsibly endangered all New Yorkers, and inexcusably disrespected those who have loved ones due to dangerous driving.
We believe the Critical Driver Program has saved lives by holding professional for-hire drivers to a higher standard -- as they should be. Under this program, 2,000 drivers have had their licenses suspended, and 800 have had their licenses revoked year-to-date. This pales in comparison to the enforcement capability of the TLC's second-most-effective enforcement program, the Persistent Violator Program, which yielded just 113 suspensions and three revocations so far this year. Opting to entirely replace the former program, with the latter, as Council Member Diaz originally proposed, would make our streets less safe for everyone, including drivers themselves, and their families.
We prepared testimony, once again revisiting the day we lost our children, and we took time out of our days to deliver this message to Council Member Diaz in person at a City Council hearing on Monday morning. But the council member pulled the bill just as we arrived, ended the hearing after just two minutes, and effectively denied us opportunity to have our voices heard.
The Critical Driver Program is a vital piece of the puzzle in preventing traffic violence on our streets, and Families for Safe Streets will stand in opposition to any efforts to gut it or any other program that we believe saves lives.