Julia Kite, Policy and Research Manager
January 5th, 2017
Thank you, Commissioner Joshi and members of the Taxi and Limousine Commission, for calling this hearing today. I am Julia Kite, Policy and Research Manager of Transportation Alternatives. We are a 44-year-old membership-based organization that advocates on behalf of New York City’s pedestrians and cyclists for safer, better, more livable streets.
We were pleased and honored to have contributed to the initial creation of the fatigued driving prevention rules last year, as this is a cause very close to our mission to protect New York City’s most vulnerable road users. We were contacted by the family of Luisa Rosario, the Manhattan woman who was killed in November 2015 by a taxi driver who reportedly had been on the road for 16 hours, and we heard firsthand their grief at the loss of their loved one in this entirely preventable crash.
We understand the practical rationale for changing the way working hours are measured for the purposes of enforcing the new rules, but we have serious concerns that only counting the times when drivers have a passenger onboard will not adequately prevent fatigued driving. This new measurement standard is less suitable to the goal of reducing fatigued driving than the original one presented in June 2016, and stands in the way of this rule being truly effective.
Regardless of whether there is a passenger in the cab, driving requires sharp mental faculties at all times, and knowing that drivers spend 40%-60% of their driving time without a passenger, setting the daily limit to 10 hours of driving with a passenger could still allow a driver to be on the road up to 16 hours. This is a dangerous situation regardless of who is or is not in the car. This rule change would not have prevented the kind of driver behavior that led to the death of Luisa Rosario.
For this reason, we suggest that if this new proposed standard of measurement remains, then the maximum amount of driving time with a passenger be reduced to six hours, in order to take into account the several hours per day a driver may be behind the wheel without a fare. This is a reasonable amount of time because if the driver then spends half his time cruising for fares, that will still be a total of 12 hours behind the wheel maximum – in line with the original limits proposed in summer 2016. And we urge the TLC to continue to develop technologies for more accurate measurement of total driving time, which can eventually replace the standard of measuring only time with a passenger.
The TLC’s creation of rules to prevent fatigued driving was a high point of proactive street safety policy in 2016, and we would hate to see those efforts weakened. We would not want all the time and work you have put into their creation and implementation to be negated due to the fact that the new proposed method of calculating hours will do little to actually prevent fatigued driving. Please reconsider this change, recognizing that driving is driving, regardless of whether there is a passenger onboard.
 Schaller Consulting: The New York City Taxicab Fact Book http://www.schallerconsult.com/taxi/taxifb.pdf; City of New York: For-Hire Vehicle Transportation Study http://www1.nyc.gov/assets/operations/downloads/pdf/For-Hire-Vehicle-Transportation-Study.pdf