City Gets Hacks to Shut Up and Drive

Taxi drivers finally hanging up cellphones

Cab drivers are finally getting the message - and getting off of their cellphones.

Taxi passengers have long complained about drivers who yap their way through fares, paying little attention to the road and even less to the folks in the back seat. But complaints have dropped dramatically since 2007, according to the New York Post. Cabbies are not supposed to gab on their mobiles - even with a hands-free device - while in traffic, unless it is an emergency. Two years ago, there were 391 complaints about gabby cabbies, prompting the city to crack down.

"Our strong enforcement efforts ... are contributing to a downward trend of complaints so far this year," Taxi & Limousine Commissioner Matthew Daus told the Post, noting that complaints are on pace to reach 285 this year.

Terry Gelber, off Master Cabbie Taxi Academy, said drivers who take his classes are getting heavily schooled on the cellphone rules. But what may have had the biggest impact on hacks was the TLC making clear how serious it is about ending phone talking in traffic. Last month, the agency floated the idea of scrambling drivers' cell signals, making it impossible for them to yap from behind the wheel.

That plan, which was first reported in the Daily News, is still in the conceptual stage. It would block talking in the front seat, but leave passengers free to talk on their cellphones.

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