Rules ban all driver phone calls
The city is dropping the hammer on gabby cabbies.
Defiant hacks glued to their cellphones and other distracting devices are about to get slapped by a sweeping overhaul of TLC rules, which will forbid the use of all electronics while cabs are in motion, The Post has learned.
Even the most popular ruse — keeping a hands-free device in an ear and claiming it’s “turned off” — will also be outlawed under the stringent new laws, said Taxi and Limousine Commissioner Matthew Daus.
The ramped-up regulations will come with skyrocketed fines and a three-strikes-and-yer-out system in which repeat offenders will have their licenses revoked, the TLC will propose at a meeting today.
Approval is a near-certainty, and the rules will go into effect by the end of the year, officials said.
“The time has come to put an end to cellphone abuse once and for all,” Daus said, adding the rules will ensure that “all drivers keep their eyes on the road and their hands upon the wheel.”
Current laws only ban talking on cellphones.
They will now be expanded to include any technology capable of making non-emergency phone calls, texting, playing music, taking pictures or distracting the driver in any manner while the cab is moving. GPS units are exempt if they are voice activated.
Even a cab stopped at a red light will be subject to the rules, which require that the vehicle be parked before such devices can be used. The regulations will apply to all TLC drivers, including taxis, liveries, limousines and commuter vans.
“Every driver will be prohibited from even wearing a Bluetooth device on their ears and after three strikes will be out of our industry and off the road,” Daus said.
The penalties for violators will get harsher each time they’re caught and convicted within a 15-month time frame.
Strike one results in a fine much higher than the current $200 plus a mandatory TLC “refresher” course.
Strike two will result in a suspended license, an even higher fine and another refresher course. Strike three and they’re out. Licenses will be revoked and drivers will receive the highest fine yet.
There will be a public hearing on the new rules before they go to a vote by the TLC board in November or December.
Passengers will be reminded in a new campaign that they can demand that drivers hang up or notify authorities.
Riders around the city said the sweeping reform was long overdue.
“It pisses me off when a cabdriver’s on his cellphone. I wonder if he’s driving safely,” said Joe Weinberg, 57, an accountant.