Hold the phone. Better yet, put it down.
Chatty cabbies attached to their phones despite laws against bantering while driving are about to get hit with stringent new rules by the Taxi and Limousine Commission. The TLC will propose new regulations that forbid the use of all electronics while cabs are being operated, according to a published report.
No more will hands-free devices be allowed to dangle from cabbies' ears, even if drivers claim they're turned off. Violators will face heightened fines for defying the new regulations, and repeat offenders will lose their cab licenses, the TLC will suggest at a meeting today, reports The New York Post.
Officials told the paper it's practically a sure thing the new laws will pass, and they'll go into effect next year.
"The time has come to put an end to cell phone abuse once and for all," TLC Commissioner Matthew Daus told the Post, adding that the laws will ensure that "all drivers keep their eyes on the road and their hands upon the wheel."
Current laws, which are already among the toughest in the nation, only forbid talking on cell phones while driving. Under the new laws, the ban will be extended to include any electronic device able to text, play music, snap pictures, make non-emergency calls or sidetrack the driver in any way while the cab is in motion, reports the Post. GPS units will be permitted under the new regulations, but only if they're voice activated.
Don't think you can get a quick conversation in while stopped at a red light, either. The vehicles must be parked before electronic devices can be used. All TLC drivers, including those who operate liveries, commuter vans, limousines and taxis, will be subject to the new regulations, which will be presented in a public hearing before the TLC board votes on them in November or December.
Passengers around the city say it's about time for a massive overhaul. Researchers have found that drivers who talk on their cell phones are four times as likely to get into an accident as drivers who don't gab behind the wheel.